IBM has pinned the fortunes of its business process modelling tool to an emerging web services standard.
Version 5 of IBM’s WebSphere Business Integration Modeler can export models in Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), which is expected to become an XML-based standard for implementing business processes using web services.
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IBM's director of WebSphere Business Integration Rachel Helm said the BPEL support meant, for example, that different departments could share business process models.
"It is one of the first modelling tools to be producing a BPEL file type, and that’s strong because we think is and will be the dominant business process orchestration description language," said Meta Group analyst Janelle Hill. "As the style for developing applications increasingly moves to web service-oriented architectures, BPEL will be the standard by which a programmer describes how to sequence the web services themselves."
Helm said the IBM tool provided a view of the network execution of business processes such as customer service, claims processing or supply chain management, allowing users to look for efficiencies, detect slowdowns and respond faster to customer demand and changing market conditions.
"It is focused on enabling line-of-business users to model their business processes and do simulations," she said.
Because the program is built on top of the Eclipse workbench, it supports services such as source code management, with users checking model assets in and out. Hill said IBM was using Eclipse to provide a consistent look and feel for its tools.
Version 5 can also import Visio diagrams that document business processes, as well as middleware-generated and Unified Modeling Language (UML) 2 models.
However, Hill added that Meta had had a lot of trouble finding anybody actually using the program and said IBM had failed to supply a demo of the product, as promised, showing film clips instead.
According to IBM, there are 250 customer sites worldwide using WebSphere Business Integration Modeler.
Paul Krill writes for IDG News Service