Comments
yourfanat wrote: I am using another tool for Oracle developers - dbForge Studio for Oracle. This IDE has lots of usefull features, among them: oracle designer, code competion and formatter, query builder, debugger, profiler, erxport/import, reports and many others. The latest version supports Oracle 12C. More information here.
Cloud Computing
Conference & Expo
November 2-4, 2009 NYC
Register Today and SAVE !..

2008 West
DIAMOND SPONSOR:
Data Direct
SOA, WOA and Cloud Computing: The New Frontier for Data Services
PLATINUM SPONSORS:
Red Hat
The Opening of Virtualization
GOLD SPONSORS:
Appsense
User Environment Management – The Third Layer of the Desktop
Cordys
Cloud Computing for Business Agility
EMC
CMIS: A Multi-Vendor Proposal for a Service-Based Content Management Interoperability Standard
Freedom OSS
Practical SOA” Max Yankelevich
Intel
Architecting an Enterprise Service Router (ESR) – A Cost-Effective Way to Scale SOA Across the Enterprise
Sensedia
Return on Assests: Bringing Visibility to your SOA Strategy
Symantec
Managing Hybrid Endpoint Environments
VMWare
Game-Changing Technology for Enterprise Clouds and Applications
Click For 2008 West
Event Webcasts

2008 West
PLATINUM SPONSORS:
Appcelerator
Get ‘Rich’ Quick: Rapid Prototyping for RIA with ZERO Server Code
Keynote Systems
Designing for and Managing Performance in the New Frontier of Rich Internet Applications
GOLD SPONSORS:
ICEsoft
How Can AJAX Improve Homeland Security?
Isomorphic
Beyond Widgets: What a RIA Platform Should Offer
Oracle
REAs: Rich Enterprise Applications
Click For 2008 Event Webcasts
In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
SYS-CON.TV
BPEL Processes and Human Workflow
Using BPEL in business processes that require human interaction

This example is based on a multi-organizational process that creates accounts for a financial service intermediary, its financial partners (insurance companies and their financial advisors), mutual fund companies, and clearinghouses. This value chain of partners collaborates to make the "New Account" business process more efficient and compliant. Each partner has compliance requirements that must be satisfied during the instantiation of the process. Regulations such as the U.S. Patriot Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, and other federal and state regulations apply and add requirements to the process for both automated system and human workflow interactions.

The example combines business process management through BPEL to orchestrate business processes in a B2B context, managing compliance in a secure environment, while greatly enhancing the efficiency of the overall process. This approach was selected because it makes the organization resilient to ongoing threats from a regulatory and competitive standpoint. These requirements were incorporated into the "New Account" business process, including the following key requirements:

  • Common interfaces for maximum interoperability
  • Comprehensive security, as each environment has firewall and other security requirements
  • Audit trails and monitoring for compliance, security, and performance reasons

As with most business processes that require automation, human interactions play a large role in this business process. Workflow requirements for the process include:

  • Electronic data routing (intra-organization as well as inter-organization)
  • Data verification and approval of provided information
  • Workflow routing to other departments with notification
  • Escalation as a result of exceptions and/or alerts
  • Approval of the entire heterogeneous transaction
  • The need for workflow requirements to interact seamlessly with automated business process steps and existing enterprise information



BPEL fit these requirements perfectly and can also address security concerns due to its foundation of Web Services and integration with specifications such as WS-Security and SAML. Enterra, the company that developed this process, first evaluated how a BPEL server could function as both a process automation and workflow tool. Since workflow specifications for BPEL are evolving, as described above, the decision was based on the following criteria:

  • Maturity of the BPEL product
  • Support for workflow from BPEL
  • Native support for relevant standards
  • Ease of development, maintenance, and deployment
  • Satisfying the process monitoring and audit capabilities
  • Using a single security model supported by BPEL
  • Taking advantage of BPEL's built-in transaction semantics

Oracle BPEL Process Manager was the selected product based on these criteria.

Workflow Interface Architecture and Benefits
Enterra used Oracle's BPEL Process Manager engine and its Java API to build an enterprise-ready resilient workflow architecture. Figure 2 shows that architecture.

The following describes the workflow:

  1. The Rich Internet Interface (RIA) workflow portal instantiates the business process via the BPELService API
  2. The instance ID of the process is captured to maintain state
  3. When a task is initiated in the process, a correlation ID is captured
  4. The payload data is sent to the task and is available via the worklist interface
  5. The API pulls the worklist data and uses the correlation ID to gather the XML metadata to return to the RIA. The RIA uses the metadata to dynamically determine which panel to display next and to update the context of the visual navigation mechanisms used in the workflow portal. This data is returned to the portal and all the update events are processed.

To implement the workflow scenario shown here, Enterra developed the Rich Internet Interface and used Java APIs to interact with the Oracle BPEL Process Manager Workflow Service. The RIA user interface is the face of the application; it runs and manages the "New Account" business process. The presentation layer is built using Macromedia's Flex technology and ActionScript scripting language. It accepts the user input and passes it to the BPEL process and also displays the current status of the process. Figure 3 shows the RIA front-end for the New Account business process.

Let's review its four main components and their key capabilities:

1)  Workflow Bar: This lets users view the workflow steps in the New Account process at the business level. Every step in the Workflow Bar is displayed in a detail view in the BPEL Panel.

2)  BPEL Panel: The BPEL Panel offers an exploded view of every step of the New Account process. The panel dynamically loads the process model and the audit trail of a given process instance to combine the process paths available with the paths actually taken by the current instance. The panel also uses the audit trail to determine what action is pending, visually delineating where the current process is at that time. Previously executed nodes of the process can be clicked on to view their respective payload. This functionality gives operations and compliance managers real-time visibility into the past, current, and potentially future states of the current process. This panel is dynamically populated at runtime using the BPEL Process Manager API.

3)  Workflow Forms: These correspond to the workflow steps in the New Account BPEL process. This view stack (developed in Macromedia Flex) communicates with the audit trail of the business process, changing the view stack form to match the context of the BPEL process. When considering different architectural approaches, we found that the RIA application would have been much more difficult to build if the data had come from two different applications (workflow and BPM). A single platform made it much easier to build a unified interface for the business user.

4)  Zone Panels: Zone Panels provide alerts and feedback to help workflow and process activity users perform their respective tasks. These panels offer a superior usability experience and interact with the BPEL API. As the context of the business process changes, the Zone Panels are updated. The events that manage these changes are propagated through the Oracle BPEL Process Manager API.

5)  BPEL Process Manager: The BPELService class facilitates interaction between the RIA front-end and the process activity monitoring capabilities in Oracle BPEL Process Manager.

The RIA interface also provides detailed audit trails views and other business process and workflow alerts in real-time. The combination of BPEL, workflow, and RIA provides a compelling architecture for addressing compliance, security, and performance metrics.

The benefits of the New Account business process implementation are:

  • Maximum interoperability without compromising security
  • Real-time monitoring and auditing of the entire environment
  • Robust workflow capabilities integrated cleanly in the BPEL environment
  • An enterprise-ready infrastructure that supports transactions, availability, and advanced exception handling

Conclusion
When automating business processes, it's critical to include the element of human interaction in the design. Standards play a key role in business process automation, and BPEL is clearly the de facto standard for process execution, but human workflow doesn't have such a single widely adopted standard. In this article, we've highlighted the options related to human workflow support in BPEL, discussed the emergence of BPEL workflow extensions, shown how to incorporate workflow into BPEL servers today, and presented a real-world BPEL process that includes human workflow.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank Harish Gaur and Dave Shaffer for their helpful comments.

About Matjaz Juric
Dr Matjaz B. Juric is a professor at the University of Maribor. He is the author of Business Process Execution Language for Web Services, 2nd Edition, published by Packt Publishing (www.packtpub.com), and several other books, articles, and conference presentations. He is also the author of courses offered by BPELmentor.com - a training, mentoring, and consulting company (www.BPELmentor.com).

About Doug H. Todd
Doug Todd is CTO of Enterra Solutions in Yardley, Pa. He has more than 20 years of experience in systems architecture, applications architecture, systems integration, and applications integration with major corporations. Todd is responsible for Enterra’s overall IT strategy and tactical implementation, enterprise information architecture, and technology product offerings.

In order to post a comment you need to be registered and logged in.

Register | Sign-in

Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

Hi,

Thanks for this great article that summarizes part of the issue of integrating Human Workflow in BPEL processes.
At Intalio, we have decided to implement BPEL4People without extending the BPEL 2.0 spec. Our implementation is based on a 5 year experience of integrating human users within business processes.
The Intalio|Workflow component is based on XForms and a set of processes deployed as BPEL 2.0 code on the Intalio|Server (aka PXE). The nice thing is that the forms representing the tasks are edited graphically through a WYSISWYG editor integrated in Intalio|Designer, an eclipse based application.
It leads me to another comment, having BPEL supporting human interaction is one side of the problem. The other side is focused on the business side of the process design. It is important to have a visual representation of Human interactions within a process. Intalio|Designer has adopted the BPMN specification to describe business processes but BPMN does not yet fully support 'Human task' as a first class citizen.

One last comment is that Intalio|Workflow Community Edition comes for free as well as the entire product ;). Check out our community website to become a member of our community.

Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), one of the key technologies for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), has become the accepted mechanism for defining and executing business processes in a common vendor-neutral way. Companies ranging from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and BEA to smaller organizations such as Fuego and Lombardi have committed to BPEL as a building block for SOA. BPEL, which has been designed specifically for defining business processes, supports typical interactions such as synchronous and asynchronous operation invocation, sequential and parallel flows, message correlations, fault and compensation handlers and activities triggered by events. Business processes often require human interactions as well.

Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), one of the key technologies for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), has become the accepted mechanism for defining and executing business processes in a common vendor-neutral way. Companies ranging from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and BEA to smaller organizations such as Fuego and Lombardi have committed to BPEL as a building block for SOA. BPEL, which has been designed specifically for defining business processes, supports typical interactions such as synchronous and asynchronous operation invocation, sequential and parallel flows, message correlations, fault and compensation handlers and activities triggered by events. Business processes often require human interactions as well.

Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), one of the key technologies for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), has become the accepted mechanism for defining and executing business processes in a common vendor-neutral way. Companies ranging from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and BEA to smaller organizations such as Fuego and Lombardi have committed to BPEL as a building block for SOA. BPEL, which has been designed specifically for defining business processes, supports typical interactions such as synchronous and asynchronous operation invocation, sequential and parallel flows, message correlations, fault and compensation handlers and activities triggered by events. Business processes often require human interactions as well.


Your Feedback
Arnaud Blandin wrote: Hi, Thanks for this great article that summarizes part of the issue of integrating Human Workflow in BPEL processes. At Intalio, we have decided to implement BPEL4People without extending the BPEL 2.0 spec. Our implementation is based on a 5 year experience of integrating human users within business processes. The Intalio|Workflow component is based on XForms and a set of processes deployed as BPEL 2.0 code on the Intalio|Server (aka PXE). The nice thing is that the forms representing the tasks are edited graphically through a WYSISWYG editor integrated in Intalio|Designer, an eclipse based application. It leads me to another comment, having BPEL supporting human interaction is one side of the problem. The other side is focused on the business side of the process design. It is important to have a visual representation of Human interactions within a process. Intalio|Designer has ado...
SYS-CON Belgium News Desk wrote: Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), one of the key technologies for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), has become the accepted mechanism for defining and executing business processes in a common vendor-neutral way. Companies ranging from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and BEA to smaller organizations such as Fuego and Lombardi have committed to BPEL as a building block for SOA. BPEL, which has been designed specifically for defining business processes, supports typical interactions such as synchronous and asynchronous operation invocation, sequential and parallel flows, message correlations, fault and compensation handlers and activities triggered by events. Business processes often require human interactions as well.
SYS-CON India News Desk wrote: Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), one of the key technologies for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), has become the accepted mechanism for defining and executing business processes in a common vendor-neutral way. Companies ranging from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and BEA to smaller organizations such as Fuego and Lombardi have committed to BPEL as a building block for SOA. BPEL, which has been designed specifically for defining business processes, supports typical interactions such as synchronous and asynchronous operation invocation, sequential and parallel flows, message correlations, fault and compensation handlers and activities triggered by events. Business processes often require human interactions as well.
SOA Web Services Journal News Desk wrote: Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), one of the key technologies for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), has become the accepted mechanism for defining and executing business processes in a common vendor-neutral way. Companies ranging from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and BEA to smaller organizations such as Fuego and Lombardi have committed to BPEL as a building block for SOA. BPEL, which has been designed specifically for defining business processes, supports typical interactions such as synchronous and asynchronous operation invocation, sequential and parallel flows, message correlations, fault and compensation handlers and activities triggered by events. Business processes often require human interactions as well.
SOA World Latest Stories
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, dep...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publ...
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will d...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus ...
"We do one of the best file systems in the world. We learned how to deal with Big Data many years ago and we implemented this knowledge into our software," explained Jakub Ratajczak, Business Development Manager at MooseFS, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8...
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools ha...
Subscribe to the World's Most Powerful Newsletters
Subscribe to Our Rss Feeds & Get Your SYS-CON News Live!
Click to Add our RSS Feeds to the Service of Your Choice:
Google Reader or Homepage Add to My Yahoo! Subscribe with Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online
myFeedster Add to My AOL Subscribe in Rojo Add 'Hugg' to Newsburst from CNET News.com Kinja Digest View Additional SYS-CON Feeds
Publish Your Article! Please send it to editorial(at)sys-con.com!

Advertise on this site! Contact advertising(at)sys-con.com! 201 802-3021


SYS-CON Featured Whitepapers
ADS BY GOOGLE