Bloor has published its first market report on the Business Rules Management Systems and Expert Systems. In this report, I have looked at what constitutes a BRMS and also identified that there is really no difference between BRMS and Expert systems in what is delivered, it is more a degree of interpretation.
Business rules is the latest step in the breaking down of monolithic programmes. They remove form programmes and process definitions, the business rules and allow them to be defined and maintained by business people. A business rule is an operating principle, practice or policy of an organisation that has to be adhered to, in order to satisfy either a required common approach to a particular event or regulatory requirements for the industry that the organisation is part of. It is a statement of truth about an organization and is an attempt to describe the operations of an organization, not an attempt to prescribe how an organization should operate.
A BRMS includes, at minimum:
- A repository;
- A development environment; and
- A runtime environment.
In the report, I look at each of these areas and define what is required in today's environment.
One of the other areas that I have looked at is the standards, embryonic or established, that are applicable to BRMS. In a BRMS, a business representation of rules is mapped to a software system for execution. A BRMS is therefore related to model-driven engineering, such as OMG's MDA. It is no coincidence that many of the related standards are under the OMG banner.
With a number of Business Process Management Systems incorporating a rules engine, the report looks at the event/rules approach to a process one and explains the differences at a high level. Neither approach is wrong or right, just better for certain situations.
The report concludes by looking at the market place. I have broken down the different products available into 5 basic categories:
- Stand-alone chargeable
- Stand-alone free
- Expert system
- Part of Application package or Infrastructure package
- Part of BPMS suite
Bloor identified 24 vendors initially to take part in a full survey of their products. Of these 24, the following 12 agreed to take part fully in the survey:
- CA: Aion Business Rules Expert
- Corticon Technologies: Corticon Business Rules Management System
- FICO: Blaze Advisor
- IBM ILOG: IBM Websphere ILOG JRules, IBM Websphere ILOG Rules for.NET, IBM Websphere ILOG Rules for Cobol
- Informavores: Firefly, Fireengine, Firestorm
- Innovations Software Technology: Visual Rules
- InRule Technology: InRule
- Oracle: Business Rules
- Pegasystems: PegaRULES
- Sapiens: eMerge
- Savvion: Business Rules Management System
- XpertRule Software: XpertRule Knowledge Builder
With the need for business to be more agile and flexible than it has ever been, in conjunction with scarce resource of time from IT department, BRMS offers an approach that allows the business to take control of the rules and conditions within their organisation, whilst allowing IT to still have the ability to control and manage the IT environment of the organisation. However, to achieve this, BRMS tools have to be able to provide both a user interface for business users to be able to input the rules and conditions without the necessity of learning any new language or nomenclature, and to provide to IT the means for them to take the business model and turn it into an IT one.
Like the BPMS market, the BRMS market has reached a consolidation on what is needed to support what Bloor will call BRMS V1 architecture. However innovation is much more limited both in terms of both technical, where it seems limited to standards and ease of use, and marketing, where there is very limited uptake of verticalisation. Bloor sees business rules management as real way of putting business in control of the operations without having to involve IT.