Business Rules Management in the Microsoft Business Process Alliance

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Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Some of you may have read my white paper on iLog on Well, here is a new rival to iLog and one with the credentials of being selected to be a charter member of the Microsoft Business Process Alliance. InRule Technology, provider of the InRule business rule engine, was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA. At the beginning of October 2007, I met with Rik Chomko, Chief Product Officer for InRule and one of the founders of the company, Theresa O’Neil, vice president for Business Development and Colin Parlett, InRule Technology’s new UK Country Manager in London.

Why choose a separate Business Rules engine from what might be available in your Integration Engine or BPMS product? InRule Technology see that if you take a SOA approach to developing applications, particularly when implementing SOA in a BPM way, then there is a need to separate the rules that are defined so that they are more visible to, and can easily be defined and updated by business users, who own the processes. InRule Technology use the term “Agile Applications” to describe the end result.

So what is the architecture of InRule? InRule consists of 5 components:

  • irAuthor – is the primary authoring tool for creating and maintaining rules. It provides services for the following functions:
    • Business Language Editor
    • Expression Builder
    • Decision Table Editor
    • Visual Rule Flow
  • irVerify – is the interactive testing tool. You can run and debug rule applications with no test application required, test cases can be created, saved and reused.
  • irSDK – allows InRule to be embedded within another application for a customized authoring interface. It is comprised of two parts:
    • RepositorySDK
    • RuntimeSDK
  • irServer – Business Rule Engine to Execute business rules. It provides services for the following functions:
    • Catalog Management
    • State Management
    • Performance Monitoring
    • Database Access
    • Run-time execution
    • Message Queue Interaction
    • Email & Alert Messaging
  • irCatalog – this is included in the license for the irServer and is the Rules Repository and Manager. It delivers lifecycle management; this includes Versioning, check-in/check-out, management of permissions, and promotion of rules from test to production.

InRule provides multiple options for integrating with external schemas as well as the ability to create the entity model from within irAuthor. Data Schemas can be imported from .NET Assemblies, Database Schemas, or XSD Schemas. Relationships among data (such as .NET Collections) are preserved. The developer or user can then choose which fields to write rules against.

There are 2 other products in the InRule portfolio:

  • InRule for BizTalk Server – this is built on InRule V2.9. It allows execution of rule applications from BizTalk orchestrations via InRule’s BizTalk adapter and static .NET classes, providing the flexibility required by demanding enterprise applications. InRule for BizTalk Server enables rule applications to be called as part of a BizTalk Orchestration. InRule Technology suggested that the product is best suited for BizTalk Server customers who want to include business logic within their applications, and who desire rule authoring for business users.
  • InRule for Windows Workflow Foundation provides rule authoring and verification and centralized rule management for Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation. InRule Technology suggested that the product is best suited for customers who wish to use the Workflow Foundation rule engine, but want additional authoring, testing, management and SDK functionality.

Being part of the Microsoft Business Process Alliance (BPA) has helped InRule get better connections within Microsoft, as well as getting assistance with marketing their product. Belonging to the BPA has led to a number of key wins the US and Europe. InRule Technology has been working with a number of the other members of the BPA.

InRule is a strong product in the Microsoft environment, with all the partner credentials a Microsoft house should be looking for. Bloor would suggest that unless your organisation is widely anti-Microsoft and you are looking for a business rules management system then InRule should be in your selection list, as it has all the necessary features necessary and at an attractive price.