For my latest project at Axispoint I have been working with IBM BPM v7.5 for the first time. Whilst I have had glimpses – and many anecdotes – of 7.5 from colleagues working on other projects, this is my first time at the coalface.
Since one of the motivations for creating this blogspace on developerWorks was to comment on my experiences with 7.5 then now is time to start sharing with you.
I have to say that my first reactions with IBM BPM v7.5 have been mixed. Today I will talk about some of my observations with the Process Designer.
Installing Process Designer
We installed the Process Center (in this case Express Edition) and since 184.108.40.206 was available we updated to that version. So far, so good. Then I went to the Process Center to download the Process Designer (still feel like I want to call it the Authoring Environment). I completed the download and install and then ran up the Process Designer. I couldn’t connect!
It took me a little while to notice / realise what the problem was. The Process Designer I had downloaded and installed was v7.5! So, I had to go to the Installation Manager and update the Process Designer to v220.127.116.11 before I could connect to the server.
So, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the worst thing that could have happened. But I do think that it is quite an important one. If the only way to get a Process Designer for the Process Center that you want to work with is to download it then I do think that the very least that the product could do is to download the right version for you. Fortunately I spotted this quite quickly, but it isn’t difficult to image that some poor sod somewhere may spend an awful lot of time scratching their head trying to figure out why then can’t connect.
I’d really like to think that this is just an oversight on the part of the developers of the product. It isn’t difficult to imagine that this is the case, as there has been so much change in relation to installation since the acquisition of Lombardi. Needless to say I’ll be looking out for something better with 18.104.22.168/22.214.171.124 when we start to see those filtering through.
Multiple instances of Process Designer
Of course I’m still a bit sore that the developers chose to remove the capability to select which server you want to connect to from the Process Designer. I can see how this isn’t any sort of problem for the vast majority of customers as they will simply work with a single Process Center. However, the number of scenarios I see where people need to have access to multiple Process Centers is increasing and I still think that this is something that IBM need to look at again.
In my case the problem is that, at any one time, I might wish to connect to as many as 6+ different Process Centers. Of course, if these are all different versions, then I will need a separate Process Designer installation for each – I think we can all accept that. But, as is often the case, many of these are likely to be the same version and thus it seems quite a waste to have to have all of these separate installations rather than an option to select which server I actually want to connect to – like we used to before version 7. The counter argument, of course, is that as an employee of an IBM Implementation Partner then my circumstances are unusual to the point where they are insignificant and thus can be discounted.
I used to accept that view but a more recent customer scenario means that I believe the problem will be far more widespread than I (and perhaps IBM) first thought. The client that I am currently working with – like many in the Financial Services sector – are very rigid about segmenting their network. Thus, there is a firewall between each of the separate networks: Dev, QA, UAT, Production. The consequence is that it won’t be possible to deploy IBM BPM in the standard configuration with a Process Center in Dev and Process Servers in each of QA, UAT and Production because their security policies wouldn’t let us build tunnels through the firewalls. Instead we will have to deploy a Process Center into each environment! The result is that the SysAdmin team – who are permitted access to all of the environments – will have to have 4 separate installations of Process Designer side-by-side in order to be able to manage all of the environments!
Installation Manager support for multiple instances of Process Designer
I also see that using Installation Manager to manage the Process Designer installation is a new development. Although I haven’t had a chance to test it yet I am going to be watching with interest to see how well it copes with
1. Multiple instances of the same version
2. Many instances of slightly different versions
of the same product – Process Designer.
If you have had similar experiences then we at Axispoint would love to hear from you.