On occasion the Smarter Process CTO Office receives requests from IBM Support to help resolve customer issues and to perform BPM process application analysis. After much PMR work and application analyses over the past few years we’ve developed the best practices of 1) disabling auto-tracking on individual business process diagrams (BPDs) and 2) disabling PDW on production Process Servers if PDW information is not needed. This blog post will explain our reasoning, the impact disabling auto-tracking and PDW has on your production environment, and some alternatives available in the Smarter Process portfolio.
In select versions and editions of BPM (IBM WebSphere Lombardi Edition (WLE), Teamworks, BPM Standard, and the BPMN portion of BPM Advanced) autotracking and PDW perform a few main functions. First, auto-tracking enables a generic set of features which copies process, task, and performance information into the PDW database. This database manages historical data for all BPDs and tasks as they execute in a Process Server or Process Center environment. In turn this data is used for:
- The Optimizer perspective in Process Designer which allows you to perform historical and as-is/to-be analysis against true historical data,
- KPI and SLA information in the Process Portal UI,
- Auditing history such as which business data was changed and when,
- Heritage ad-hoc reports (deprecated)
- Heritage Process Performance scoreboard (deprecated in 8.5)
- BPD instance diagram path annotations, based on historical typical paths, in the BPM 8.5.x Process Performance instance dashboard. The instance path taken so far is marked by the blue lines while the projected path is marked by the orange lines in the diagram below.
As you can see, a few of these items have been deprecated in more recent IBM BPM releases (ad-hoc reports and heritage scoreboards) and will be removed in future releases. Other items, such as the Optimizer, are not heavily leveraged during production in client deployments my team and I have interacted with. If your BPM project is not utilizing the items in the above list you can safely unselect Auto-tracking on your BPDs by deselecting “Enable Autotracking” on the Tracking tab of a given BPD as shown in the image below. If you are authoring new BPDs in IBM BPM 8.5.5 or later you will find that autotracking is not automatically selected and no action is required to disable autotracking.
As of BPM 8.5, the Process Performance dashboard does not require auto-tracking to be enabled. Without auto-tracking enabled, the process diagram on the Process Performance instance dashboard will simply not annotate the traversed path, but will continue to display a projected path (and projected future tasks on the instance gantt diagram) based on the longest calculated future path through the process, instead of based on historical typical path. If end users have permission, they can modify the instance’s projected path.
If you want to track the performance of BPDs we prefer you add Intermediate Tracking events and tracking groups. These constructs allow you to explicitly define which pieces of process data you want to capture at a given step of the process. If you define custom timing intervals based on the Intermediate Tracking events, an additional tab will get added to the Process Performance dashboard to display average timing interval durations. We have a developerWorks article which provides an overview of Tracking Groups along with the regular information provided in the IBM Knowledge Center. Please see the references for the links to these resources.
If no BPDs will utilize auto-tracking or Intermediate Tracking events, you can completely disable the PDW by following the steps from the technote referenced below.
If you are using the Performance Data Warehouse information for auditing it is important to adopt an archiving and purging strategy for data management. We’ve found that as the PDWDB grows the general BPM system performance begins to slow down. There is no system provided PDWDB archiving support in BPM today so any archiving solution will be roll-your-own. An option is to ETL the required PDW information into some other data warehouse solution such as IBM DB2, IBM Cognos, or IBM PureData appliance. IBM BPM does provide purging support for PDW as outlined in the references at the end of this post.
IBM does provide a complementary product, IBM Business Monitor, which integrates with IBM BPM and provides many of the same features and functions as the Performance Data Warehouse. With Business Monitor you can generate KPIs, visualizations, reports, and custom dashboards for IBM BPM process applications. In IBM BPM and Business Monitor 8.5.5 we’ve provided quicker and easier ways to utilize Business Monitor earlier in the development lifecycle via automatic generation and deployment of monitor models to Business Monitor, all from Process Designer.
Thanks to Ryan Claussen and David Enyeart for assisting in crafting and validating some of the materials in this post.
Key References for this topic
Steps to disable PDW on PC and PS: http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21611013
PDW and its impact on performance dashboards In BPM 8.5.x: http://pic.dhe.ibm.com/infocenter/dmndhelp/v8r5m0/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.ibm.wbpm.wle.editor.doc%2Fmodeling%2Ftopic%2Fcritical_path_A.html
Purging in IBM BPM, updated July 2014: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/bpm/bpmjournal/1312_spriet/1312_spriet.html
Creating Monitor Models in Process Designer: http://www-01.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSFPJS_8.5.5/com.ibm.wbpm.mon.doc/scen/bpm.html
Monitoring business processes by using tracking groups in IBM BPM v7.5: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/library/techarticles/1108_venugopal/1108_venugopal.html
Tracking IBM Business Process Manager performance data: http://www-01.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSFPJS_8.5.5/com.ibm.wbpm.wle.editor.doc/topics/how_perfsvr_stores_data_a.html?lang=en