Business Process Engine

The Business Process Engine is the core component that supports the Sterling B2B Integrator business process approach to integration. The Business Process Engine enables high-performance flexibility, extensibility, and a consistent environment for deploying EAI, Internet B2B, EDI, and business process management projects.

The Business Process Engine is Java-based. For information about the technical framework of Sterling B2B Integrator, see Sterling B2B Integrator Technical Framework.

Integration Activities Performed by the Business Process Engine

The Business Process Engine performs integration activities, known as services.

Nearly any kind of activity can be a service in Sterling B2B Integrator. All such services achieve some predefined type of integration activity. Examples of service activities performed by the Business Process Engine include:
  • Communicating with external applications or middleware (using special services called adapters)
  • Performing data manipulations, such as translation, transformation, splitting, and joining
  • Routing data based on content or other criteria
  • Publishing data to interested subscribers, which may trigger a new business process or allow a running process to continue
  • Execution of one or more B2B protocols
  • Starting a business process
  • Performing operations on SQL (Structured Query Language) database tables
  • Enabling human interactions within an otherwise automated process

For more information, see Services and Adapters.

Understanding Business Processes

The services that the Business Process Engine runs are configured within defined business process models that you create and modify within the system.

A business process is a series of linked software (and possibly human) activities that accomplishes a business goal. The activities are called services, the modules of work that comprise business processes. The services must complete for a business process to run successfully.

A business process model can be a simple linear configuration, or contain one or more decision points requiring human or system determination of the next steps in the process.

In the following conceptual figure of a business process, an oval represents an activity, and a diamond represents a decision point:

The high-level process for creating a business process model involves:

  1. Analyzing your business requirements.
  2. Determining which services, adapters, and components you must involve to accomplish your goal.
  3. Configuring the services and adapters used in the business process.
  4. Testing the business process.

Business Process Modeling Language

The Sterling B2B Integrator Business Process Engine runs business process models that have been created using Business Process Modeling Language (BPML), which is an XML-based language for describing business processes. It was developed by the Business Process Management Initiative (

You can create business process models in several ways:
  • Graphical Process Modeler (GPM).
  • A simple text editor

  • Any graphical editor that can export the XML format to Sterling B2B Integrator

Unless you are proficient in the use of XML and BPML syntax, use the GPM to create your business process models.

Business Process Flow

The Business Process Engine automatically selects the appropriate business process model to run when data enters the system through an input adapter. When an input adapter receives data from an external system, the Business Process Engine locates the appropriate business process or processes to call, and starts the process or delivers the incoming data to the appropriate process that is already running.

The following is an example of how the Business Process Engine executes the steps in a business process as a document progresses through Sterling B2B Integrator:

  1. Sterling B2B Integrator receives the business message or document through an adapter.
  2. The Business Process Engine determines which service to start next, and starts the service, according to the content of the document.
  3. The adapter places the message or document and other appropriate process state information in a queue for the appropriate service in the selected business process.
  4. The appropriate service retrieves the initial business process state information from the queue and processes the next step in the business process.
  5. Each service in the business process updates the business process state information, and creates a copy of the related data or pointers to the data for process recoverability.
  6. An adapter sends the modified business process state information, with the data, to a specific application.

For information about how the system maintains process state information, see Full Process Recovery.