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On February 5th 2008, Vitria Technology Inc announced a new Web 2.0 BPM suite, called M3O. M3O stands for Model, Manage, Monitor, Optimize. The product is aimed at the nirvana of getting business users to directly model, manage, monitor and optimize their business processes, by exploiting a rich web-based environment with direct collaboration with IT. Bloor were given a heads-up on this new environment before the launch, when Dale Skeen, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Mark Roth, VP Corporate Marketing, and John Goble, VP Product Marketing, briefed me in mid-January.
For those of you not aware of Vitria’s history, here is a short overview.
Vitria were founded in 1994 when they came out with an EAI product that has now evolved into BusinessWare. They are headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. BusinessWare moved into the BPM space in 1998, when it was one of the first EAI products to support business process integration and business-to-business integration. Vitria went public in September 1999 and is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Throughout the early part of this decade, Vitria have been at the forefront of development in the EAI and BPM space. Skeen explained that “Vitria’s mission is to be the market leader in Business Process Management and Business Event Management”.
Vitria have two categories of software products in their portfolio:
- Platforms: address a wide range of customer needs related to business process integration. These products support organisations implementing SOA, integrating internal applications and business processes, and orchestrating B2B scenarios.
- Business Process Applications: these are solutions for the Government, Telecommunications and Healthcare/Insurance sectors. These solutions have been built upon Vitria’s Platform products and knowledge of the industry sector.
Vitria’s customer base includes global 2000 organizations such as AT&T, Bell Canada, BellSouth, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, BP, BT, DaimlerChrysler, Nissan, Reynolds & Reynolds, RBC Financial Group, Sprint and U.S. Department of Defense.
Why a new platform?
Roth explained “Until now, the modelling and collaboration capabilities of BPM solutions were constrained by a technological gap that kept business analysts and IT professionals separated.” In other words, Vitria have seen how the technologies to support business process management can be enhanced through the use of the capabilities of Web 2.0 to give better support for collaboration. Add to that melting pot of goodies all the necessary technology to support event processing—the key behind RFID and other sensory device integration with business processing—and you have M3O. Globe added “BPM provides standards-based executable modelling (based on BPMN) on top of business knowledge Repository. Web 2.0 provides the rich user experience with zero footprint to enable a collaborative design environment. Event processing provides the support for rule and process definition and real-time runtime performance based on event driven architecture. Only when you combine these together do you get a fundamentally new user experience with multilayer visualization, collaborative modelling environment, business level abstractions and event management”
Except, that is not all that M3O has to offer. Vitria have added exception management through a product component known as Exception Manager, which provides support for managing and resolving business process exceptions. Roth said “By significantly reducing process delays and manual effort caused by transactions rejected from the normal process path, Exception Manager can increase customer satisfaction, reduce operational costs, and improve process visibility and control.”
Understanding M3O Suite
The M3O Suite is comprised of BPM, ESB, and Exception Manager.
M3O Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
Starting at the bottom we have the M3O Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). This was originally called Business Accelerator and is also part of Vitria’s BusinessWare offering. It runs on IBM, JBoss & BEA application servers on Microsoft Windows, Sun Solaris, IBM AIX or Red Hat Linux. The ESB uses a component process architecture that means composite process models can be built that use nested process models published as services. These nested process models can be called at runtime based on the operational context. Component process architecture allows processes to be deployed to different messaging platforms without changing the process models while using configuration properties. The product seamlessly scales through different Editions to manage growing, enterprise-level process complexity.
The middle layer is M3O BPM, which has been designed for seamless collaboration between business analysts and IT using the BPMN standard. The Rich Internet Application (RIA) interface provides a way for users to manage their workspaces which reflect business models and process components in business vocabulary. Business analysts create processes by combining a series of business steps which can be shared and reused in the enterprise. The BPM Modeller has active support for multi-role collaborations with notifications, dependencies, impact analysis and exploration. The collaboration is managed through roles and privileges. The same modelling tool is used by both business analysts and IT.
M3O BPM also supports Business Event Management using an event-driven architecture with Event Policies and Event Lifecycle Management. Events can be used to trigger processes and services (and vice versa). The product uses a modelling concept of an event policy, which is a business expression of the different types of events to be discovered and the required actions or responses to be taken. Event policies are stored in the model and knowledge repository where they can be organised, searched and discovered. Policies are linked to the other models and definitions on which they depend.
M3O BPM provides full Event Lifecycle Management—the entire lifecycle of an event from the time that it is first discovered to the last action that is performed. Each event and its corresponding actions are monitored and logged throughout this lifecycle, providing both real-time visibility into event processing as well as governance of business operations.
M3O BPM also contains a model and knowledge repository. When this was being described to me it reminded me of the Information Resource Dictionary Systems (IRDS) standards work I was involved in back in the early 1990’s. The repository is used to store the models and other metadata that define the process models that drive the applications. A mechanism is available to monitor and govern policies and rules. The stored data models can be used for situational and predictive analysis.
Building on the experience of Vitria’s BusinessWare, Analyzer, and Business Cockpit components, M3O BPM provides the management visibility into complex business processes defined and running in M3O environment. Analysis displays of the process status are available over the web. When process chokepoints occur, they are highlighted. Key performance indicators of performance against targets can be traced. The product supports the generation of alerts when process metrics exceed threshold values. Process data for analysis can be extracted by 3rd party business intelligence tools.
Exception Manager is a purpose-built application that uses all of M3O’s capabilities to automatically resolve process exceptions across an organisation. Exception Manager classifies the incoming exceptions and, as well, can automatically resolve problems, providing resolution guidance with context-sensitive workflow when human involvement is required. The normal process flow can be restarted from point of exception. A full audit trail across the entire exception resolution lifecycle is provided. In Bloor’s view, exemption management is essential to the successful widespread adoption of SOA.
Should you be interested?
Vitria, like many vendors involved in the BPM market, are looking to what is required in what Bloor is terming BPM v2.0. Gone are all the old differentiators such as support for human workflow or support for integration or support for BPEL or BPMN. These are all features that are required as part of the basic set of a BPM suite. So where are the differentiators? Some vendors, like Vitria, have identified that link between SOA and BPM and also Event Management. Vitria, with a number of other vendors, has also seen the need for BPM v2.0 to support better collaboration between business users and IT, with the former being given more capability to design and build solutions with IT providing the necessary control and management. But it is only Vitria that have recognised the need for software to manage exceptions. Exception Manager is an exceptional idea (excuse the pun).
Vitria’s pedigree in integration and BPM speaks for itself. With the M3O Suite, they are taking their software delivery to the next level. Bloor would seriously recommend that Vitria’s M3O be part of anyone’s evaluation list of BPM of the new generation.
M3O and Exception Manager are currently available for Early Access for qualified customers and partners. Both products will be released at the end of March.