ILOG - pushing business rules for a heterogeneous world

Simon Holloway

Written By:
Published: 14th April, 2008
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

At the beginning of March 2008, I was invited to meet with Jean-François Abramatic, ILOG's Chief Product office and Brett Stineman, their BRMS Product Marketing Director, at their UK office in Bracknell to hear about the company and their plans for the BRMS market. In this, the second of 2 articles, I will look at ILOG's Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS). In the first article, I looked at ILOG the company and its product offerings.

For those of you who didn't read the first article, who are ILOG? ILOG was founded in 1987. It has headquarters on both sides of the "pond"; Gentilly, France and Sunnyvale, California, USA. Reflecting this joint headquarters, its stock is quoted on both NASDAQ and Euronext. There are subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Spain. ILOG has some 860 employees worldwide, with some 3,000 customers. Revenues for fiscal 2007 year were $161.5 million.

ILOG offer 4 different BRMSs: JRules is for the Java environment; Rules for C++ provides support for the C++ world; and in 2006 ILOG developed Rules for .NET. There is a Product Evaluation of these products available from the Bloor Research site (http://www.bloorresearch.com/); 2008 has seen ILOG release another BRMS, Rules for Cobol.

JRules is an SOA-compliant rule engine which allows easy reuse of rule-based decision services for the Java environment. It is 100% Eclipse-based tooling and provides complete rule testing and simulation for business users. The product consists of:

  • Rule Team Server: where the business users collaborate, manage and edit business rules in an environment accessible using an organisation's chosen web browser.
  • Rule Studio: where developers move between rules and code. It is an Eclipse-based development environment for the development of rule applications.
  • Rule Scenario Manager: where both business users and developers are able to create and manage tests. It is a framework for implementing rule set testing and business simulation capabilities.
  • Rule Execution Server: where system administrators integrate rule management with the user choice of platform and data storage. It is a robust, J2SE and J2EE-compliant execution environment for deploying business rules to the leading web and application servers.

Rules for C++ shares many features and tools with ILOG JRules. The C++ engine has been optimised for performance and scalability. Classes, methods, and fields can be mapped on-the-fly using the reflection API, allowing applications to dynamically construct objects upon which rules will act.

Rules for .NET is a native .NET rule engine and is fully integrated in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 .NET. The central rule repository is accessible via Windows SharePoint Services. Managers and business analysts can use Microsoft Office to access ILOG business rules authoring and management tools. The product consists of:

  • Rule Studio for .NET: this is a set of add-ins integrated into Visual Studio. It is used to define business object models based on standard CLR classes.
  • Rule Solutions for Office: this is a set of rule authoring add-ins integrated into Microsoft Office 2003 Professional Edition.
  • Rule Team Server for SharePoint: provides a central storage system for business rules and metadata, fully integrated into Windows SharePoint Services, leveraging the file versioning capabilities of Windows SharePoint Services.
  • Rule Engine for .NET: enables the embedding and control of .NET application's rule engine within a common-language runtime (CLR) compatible advanced programming interface (API). It executes application business logic as rulesets.

Rules for COBOL allows users to author rules that can then be automatically generated into COBOL CopyBook code. It uses JRules Business Rule Management System (BRMS) capabilities as the base for auditing, versioning and metadata for all the rules that will be used.

ILOG have had some major customer wins in 2007 including Eurobank EFG, Groupe Mutuel and Castilla y León Regional Government.

ILOG became an IBM PartnerWorld Premier Partner in 2007. They were the first BRMS vendor in the ISV Advantage program for SMBs and in IBM's SOA Specialty.

They are a Destination Z Partner for z-Series mainframes. ILOG claim to be the only BRMS to support:

  • IBM's Service Component Architecture
  • Common Event Infrastructure for Event processing in Websphere Business Monitor

Cementing on the development of Rules for .NET, ILOG have been selected as a Microsoft Global ISV Partner, making them one of a select group of 200. Building on their Gold-certified partner status, ILOG became a member of Microsoft's Business Process Alliance in December 2007. They are also involved in Visual Studio Industry Partner program.

The key to ILOG's business proposition is to make business change work by giving business people effective control over business policy change, whilst complementing existing IT investments with policy change management. ILOG see their differentials as providing the right tools to the right people (both for business and technical users), whilst fitting seamlessly into the IT stack of an organisation.

So where to next with BRMS? ILOG have just released a new version of Rules for .NET (Version 3.0). April 2008 is scheduled for release of a Scorecards module for JRules 6.7, providing direct integration of risk models into rule-based decision services. What will 2009 bring?

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