Microsoft Business Process Alliance and IDS Scheer

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Business Process Management, like most other areas of IT, is a complex combination of different technologies. The technologies together support BPM but individually they are used in many other areas of IT.

In recognition of this Microsoft has set up the Microsoft Business Process Alliance to bring together the best of breed solutions in the various areas.

The main areas that the alliance has defined are:

  • Modelling: a business process must be modelled and described in a format that is easily accessible and understandable by the business managers. They should be able to confirm that the model is an accurate representation of the process before it goes into development. The model should also allow what-if scenarios so changes in business practices can be evaluated before they are implemented.
  • Rules: as well as defining the overall flow of a business process the technology must also be able to define the detailed rules governing the decisions within the flow.
  • Human Workflow: All business processes will have some areas of normal or exception handling that require human intervention. Technology is needed to support the routing, queuing, prioritising, escalating and monitoring of these interventions.
  • Process Management: there is a need for a runtime environment to underpin the processes, including flow support, integration with external services and holding the status of long-running business processes.
  • Life cycle support: an effective runtime environment must be supported by technology that enables promotion to production and monitoring of the health of both the underlying technologies and the business processes.

All of these areas are essential to BPM but the technologies in each are used in other solution areas such as transaction processing and event processing.

I believe that Microsoft have made the right decision in forming this alliance rather than trying to provide best of breed solutions for all these areas. The companies involved have built up a depth of experience from implementing their specific area across a wide range of technologies and solution areas. Microsoft can now maximise this experience and ensure that it is well integrated with its foundation technologies BizTalk, Office and SharePoint. The combination of the partners’ depth of experience with Microsoft acceptance in the SMB, as well as the enterprise, market should ensure a much greater take up of BPM across all business types and sizes.

The initial members of the Alliance are: Metastorm, K2.Net, IDS Scheer, Fair Isaac, Global 360, RuleBurst, PNMSoft, AmberPoint, Ascentn and Inrule technology. I see IDS Scheer’s ARIS repository as being the other key technology that will bring all the parts together.

The Alliance will not only help to develop the integration of these products but will also enable joint marketing.

Over the next year we should see closer integration of ARIS with BizTalk and SharePoint. All the other players will be able to integrate with the repository as a holder of all the definitions and BizTalk Work Flow as the heart of the runtime environment. This should provide a robust, flexible and better integrated solution for BPM which should speed its acceptance in the customers.