Getting started with a BPM project or rolling out a BPM program each requires investment in setting up and configuring a set of BPM environments in which to develop, test, execute and improve upon those business processes which are being automated. There are many ways to tackle the challenge of getting the right environments ready to go.
The traditional approach to setting up environments for IBM Business Process Manager (IBM BPM) is to install and configure these environments on locally owned hardware or a locally managed virtualization platform. This usually means reading a redbook or acquiring the services skills and help to do the installation and configuration. Of course, that is preceded in some cases by acquiring the compute resources and getting them in house and running.
On the other end of the spectrum is the SaaS approach and in the world of IBM BPM, we call this IBM BPM on Cloud.
In the middle-ground between the traditional approach and the full SaaS approach we find the world of PaaS and for IBM BPM, this means patterns. Specifically this means patterns for PureApplication System or patterns that work in the context of Pure Application Service on Softlayer. More recently, we also support IBM Cloud Orchestrator with the IBM Business Process Manager Pattern 8.5.5.
This blog entry highlights some of the interesting and valuable things to know about our IBM BPM 8.5.5 pattern for PureApplication. Most of what is described here and in the related PDF also applies to Pure Application Service on Softlayer and the IBM Cloud Orchestrator variations as well.
The concept of patterns and the embracing of that concept by PureApplication System and our IBM BPM usage of the patterns framework available on PureApplication System provides for a powerful approach to setting up and configuring environments for IBM BPM 8.5.5. Powerful means:
- that full environments can be setup in a few hours with a minimal set of inputs required.
- that these environments can be customized to meet specific local requirements.
- that these environments can be managed and evolved in a simplified and consistent way.
I will elaborate on a few of these topics in the following paragraphs.
The IBM BPM 8.5.5 pattern builds on the latest patterns engine from PureApplication System. This patterns engine delivers the best of both Virtual System Patterns and Virtual Application Patterns approaches found in earlier IBM BPM Patterns. Specifically, the new IBM BPM 8.5.5 pattern provides a high-level Virtual Application Pattern (VAP) as well as a number of default Virtual System Patterns (VSPs). The VAP is constructed from the VSP. The VSPs are constructed from various pattern elements. Customers may choose to start with the VAP, or may choose to start with one of the VSPs. If the VSP is customized, then a new VAP built on that customized VSP is simple to create. Typically, we expect that customers will start with the VSPs, customize them by adding script packages and add-ons to fit to their specific environments and then optionally repackage them into VAPs. It is also possible to start with the pattern elements and construct a VSP. This will not be common but is still a path customers can utilize.
The VSPs come setup for high-availbility and are ready for production usage. Some specific highlights of the 8.5.5 patterns include:
for those using the DB2 embedded in the pattern we have:
- created the appropriate tablespaces for both BPMN and BPEL processes
- configured for a single database rather than the usual 3 databases required by the classic on-premise version of IBM BPM
- provided for DB2 HADR configuration for both database high-availabilty and disaster recovery
- access, by using the DBaaS pattern, to the latest DB2, which we have tuned for IBM BPM
- a set of the latest required and recommended i-fixes for IBM BPM
- a set of the latest fixes for both IHS and the underlying WAS.
- IHS tuning specific to IBM BPM
- specific patterns for using external databases
- specific patterns to facilitate various product migrations
This is just a sampling of the tuning and optmizations available in the patterns. There are many optimizations and out of the box tuning that are unique to the pattern. When we know the topology and the underlying environment, these optimizations make good sense and are intended to support production workloads. Of course, every workload will vary and additional testing and tuning are always required, but this is the best starting point available. We have truly embraced the 'expertise in the box' idea which is foundational to patterns.
A key challenge in deploying production BPM workloads is always that of getting the right level of high-availability and disaster recovery support configured. PureApplication System now supports the concept of multi-rack deployment. The IBM BPM 8.5.5 pattern supports multi-rack deployment, meaning a single pattern instance that spans multiple PureApplication System racks. All of the DR approaches supported in the standard on-premise product configuration are now available with the patterns on PureApplication System.
While there are many different patterns supported and many different ways to customize the patterns, the more workload you commit to the PureApplication System, the more value you will get. Use the DB2 that is available in the pattern and let the auto-scaling work for both the WebSphere custom nodes and the database nodes automatically adjust the number of CPUs, the amount of memory or the number of VM nodes. Run testing and production, probably in separate cloud groups. Run multiple process applications using multiple pattern instances to get great isolation and to begin to see the power of the technology of PureApplication System work for you.
While it isn't possible to elaborate upon all of the capabilities and features available in this latest version of the IBM BPM pattern, it should be clear from this summary that there is truly a lot of power here. Environments can now be consistently and quickly be created for development or production. Just think of being able to create an environment for stress testing that matched exactly what you had in production and do that in a few hours. Just think of being able to add more production environments in a few hours. A quick demonstration of this pattern is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnzbbihcAbU.
I am certainly excited about these patterns, not only because they are technically powerful and very customizable, but because of the value they bring to the broader cause of rolling out BPM in an organization. As business sponsors and champions of process automation and continuous process improvement, you no longer need to wait for infrastructure and debate alternatives.
Thanks to Ryan Claussen for preparing the pdf and for reviewing this content.