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Using Microsoft Tools for Business Process Management

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Using Microsoft Tools for
Business Process Management

White Paper

Published: December 2003

For the latest information, please see http://www.microsoft.com/biztalk

Contents

Introduction1

A new paradigm2

Microsoft Technology for BPM2

BizTalk Server 20043

Office 20034

Exchanging Information5

Roles of Business Analyst and Developer5

Bringing the pieces together6

Understanding BPEL7

Business Rules in Business Processes7

BPM and the Service Oriented Architecture8

Operational Support for BPM Technology8

Conclusion9


Introduction

Business processes are dependant and ordered activities that result in predictable and repeatable outcomes. Consisting of an organization’s operating procedures, institutional working knowledge, and information resources, business processes are designed to satisfy defined business objectives in an efficient and timely manner. In an efficient environment, the functional components of a process can be readily identified, adapted, and deployed to address ever-changing corporate requirements—a capability termed as business agility. By definition, business agility is an organization’s systemic ability to fluidly marshal and reconfigure resources in response to business requirements and opportunities. Business Process Management (BPM) tools are designed to provide for such agility by facilitating the creation and execution of highly transparent and modular process-oriented workflows that meet the operational performance standards IT organizations demand.

Automated business processes developed and executed within such an environment are characterized by the following attributes:

·         Visibility of end-to-end process activities

·         Process components and functionality that are exposed and self-describing

·         Ability to integrate disparate information source and application functionality into a process

·         Information flow and event notification that can be automated and monitored throughout a process

·         Workflow participation that makes the most of desktop productivity and communication tools

·         Service level agreements that can be specified, monitored, and enforced for activities in a process

·         Ability to add, remove, or reconfigure any process activity or component, without disrupting the process

·         Processes that can be monitored in real time or near real time

·         Process designs that can accommodate any exception handling requirement

·         Processes that can be easily replicated, extended, and scaled

With the support of XML and Web Services, BPM systems are transforming the way in which IT organizations are implementing and executing workflow components. XML applies structure to information, freeing it from any functional dependency on the software that operates on it. Web Services on the other hand provide the framework for application-to-application messaging and invocation over an unbounded network. BPM tools provide the additional support infrastructure to harness these capabilities to create, deploy, and execute the entire scope of workflow management, enterprise application integration (EAI), and trading partner integration (TPI).

This document examines how Microsoft’s tools for Business Process Management and supporting technologies facilitate the creation of processes that share the characteristics defined previously. The paper also describes how XML and Web Services are deployed within a BPM solution to achieve unprecedented modularity and extensibility. Finally, the document illuminates the gains in development and operational productivity that BPM technology engenders, which in turn enables real-time business agility.

A new paradigm

Just as standards-based Web servers and browsers facilitated the communication and distribution of information between people, BPM tools that employ standards-based XML and Web Services technologies will facilitate the wide-scale proliferation of automated and distributed business processes.

A defining characteristic of BPM technology is the elevation of design and development functions from the program layer to the information (document) and transport (messaging) layer. An application is no longer an opaque data-centric procedural construct; it is a messaging event or messaging agent capable of processing the exposed declarative properties of rich (XML) documents. Workflow processes, integration scenarios, or trading partner interactions consist of an orchestrated flow of messages that are routed, transformed, and processed according to message content, formatting requirements, and business rules.

Transparency and modularity are also defining characteristics of BPM technology. Not only are documents and messages exposed, self-describing, and extensible, but so are the communicating endpoint definitions, services, business rules, transformation maps, and process execution instructions that exchange and act upon the messages and documents. A process component can be “loosely coupled” with any other component so that a modification made to one activity or component in a process does not necessitate changes to other activities or components. Each component is functionally independent of any other component.



Microsoft Technology for BPM

Business Process Management technology represents a major conceptual reorientation of the methodologies of workflow development and deployment for business processes. As with any paradigm shift, it must result in significant benefits to be justified. Substantial evidence already indicates that users of BPM technology are achieving dramatic development efficiencies, accelerated returns on their investment, and most importantly, reduced resource requirements. Although XML, Web Services, and BPM platforms impose a new conceptual model on business process development and execution, the technologies required to do so are proven Microsoft® products that have been augmented to support this new paradigm. This section describes the core and supporting component technologies that constitute Microsoft’s process development and execution suite.

BizTalk® Server is Microsoft’s central platform for Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and BPM and embodies the integration and automation capabilities of XML and Web Services technologies. BizTalk Server functions as a process execution engine and as a multitransport hub for messaging and document transformations.

Visual Studio® .NET is Microsoft’s flagship integrated development environment. The Orchestration Designer module found in previous versions of BizTalk Server is now an integral part of Visual Studio .NET with significantly more functionality. It is a visual development tool for building sophisticated workflows and processes that incorporate business rules, events, transactions, and exceptions and for linking these elements to implementation objects and messaging events. The assembled process generates an XML-based run-time script (BPEL) of the process that is executed in BizTalk Server.

SQL Server is tightly coupled with BizTalk Server and functions as its real-time data store for document tracking information and dehydrated instances of long-running processes.

Office 2003 redefines the functional concept and capabilities of Word and Excel by making XML the native file format. The applications can now behave like network clients, in the manner of a Web browser or e-mail client, but are capable of far more sophisticated and automated interactions with any source of XML information. Furthermore, in Office 2003, Microsoft also introduces InfoPath, an XML-based form application designed to address complex workflow documentation requirements. Because these applications can generate and decode XML documents with their respective schema definitions and processing instructions, they can directly engage in event-level interactions with BizTalk Server.

Active Directory® provides automated and federated authentication and authorization facilities as part of the process development and execution architecture. Its authentication and authorization capabilities facilitate sophisticated workflow processes that involve multiple participants, applications, documentation flows, and information sources. Active Directory also defines role-based participation attributes for workflow activities.

Host Integration Server and BizTalk Server Adapters facilitate integration with enterprise applications, legacy networking and transport protocols, and numerous data formats.

Microsoft Operations Manager and Application Center provide data center class system tools for building, monitoring, and scaling high-performance, mission-critical deployments of BizTalk Server and its supporting technologies.

Microsoft is at the forefront of XML, Web Services, and Business Process Management development and is committed to the implementation of these enabling technologies throughout its products. Nowhere are the potential capabilities of XML and Web Services more evident and maximized than within Microsoft’s integration, development, and productivity technologies. The core XML and Web Services capabilities found in the new releases of BizTalk Server, Visual Studio .NET, Visio, and Microsoft Office 2003 demonstrate a coherent vision for distributing EAI and BPA development and deployment activities, both along functional lines and among stakeholders. The details of this vision become apparent through an examination of the new features and functions of the component technologies described previously.

BizTalk Server 2004

BizTalk Server is the central product of the Microsoft Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and Business Process Management (BPM) toolset and embodies the application integration and process automation capabilities of XML and Web Services technologies. BizTalk Server has two core functions:


The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.

This White Paper is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT.

Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Microsoft Corporation.

Microsoft may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property.

© 2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved

Unless otherwise noted, the example companies, organizations, products, domain names, e-mail addresses, logos, people, places and events depicted herein are fictitious, and no association with any real company, organization, product, domain name, e-mail address, logo, person, place or event is intended or should be inferred.

Microsoft, BizTalk, Visual Studio, Visio, Active Directory, and InfoPath are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.








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