Cost effective business activity monitoring for BPM

Once business processes are deployed, many BPM users want to monitor how they are impacting business. Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) is a term commonly used for monitoring BPM and other systems generating business events and data within an enterprise. Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite includes BAM capabilities that focus on the graphical presentation of business and process metrics along with the ability to flexibly draw data from a variety of sources.

It is not unusual for Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite developers to get started with BAM using data drawn from the BPM execution engine. However, when monitoring the impact of business processes, access to data via JDBC data sources and flat files, can be tremendously valuable and is a capability built into Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite business activity monitoring. When organizing data from disparate systems, developers may want to consider supplementing Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite with a Red Hat JBoss Data Virtualization subscription. Red Hat JBoss Data Virtualization is a data integration solution that sits in front of multiple data sources and allows them to be treated as a single source, delivering the right data, in the required form, at the right time to any application without the need to duplicate data. While a powerful tool that developers can leverage, Red Hat JBoss Data Virtualization is not required for using Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite BAM. Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite business activity monitoring out of the box can gather data directly from the BPM execution engine, a JDBC data source, a flat file, or combination thereof.

Think about all the possible custom business process data that could be created for different industries. Now think about all the different kinds of business activity monitoring that can be associated with that varied data. You can quickly come to the conclusion that the value of a business activity monitoring solution is not realized via predefined analysis capabilities, but rather by the flexibility to interact with different kinds of data.

IBM Business Process Manager Standard Edition does not include business activity monitoring capabilities as part of the license.1 Instead, IBM BPM documentation specifies how to use the separately licensed and supported IBM Business Monitor. When properly licensed, IBM Business Monitor can interact with processes running on the IBM BPM process center server or a process server. The models use to monitor processes can be generated automatically, or developed using IBM Integration Designer. However, like IBM Business Monitor, IBM IBM Integration Designer is licensed separately from IBM Business Process Manager Standard Edition.

IBM Business Monitor list price is $1,140 per PVU. Deployed on 16 cores of Intel servers rated a 100 PVU per core, the license price would be $1,824,000, and subscription and support starting annually in year-2 and thereafter would be 20% of the IBM license. For developers, list price for IBM Integration Designer is $4,810 per authorized user plus 20% of license for annual subscription and support starting in year-2 and thereafter. Adding IBM Business Monitor and development tools to an IBM Business Process Manager Standard Edition purchase can dramatically increase overall costs. Is the IBM business activity functionality worth the extra cost?

IBM Business Monitor does have functional capabilities not found in Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite. For example IBM has a proprietary method of defining business events and event models. IBM Business Monitor also includes the ability to create analytic warehouses of business data using the limited deployment Cognos capabilities included with the license. However, if you already have a data warehouse to draw data from, and potentially an analytics tool to crunch data with, the IBM added value associated with the Cognos capabilities may be minimized.

What about streaming analysis of business data? Like IBM Business Process Manager Standard Edition, IBM Business Monitor does not include complex event processing capabilities. A capability included with a Red hat JBoss BPM Suite subscription. To match the complex event processing capabilities in Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite a purchase of IBM Operational Decision Manger would be required. List price for IBM Operational Decision Manger Standard Edition is $1,630 per PVU. Deployed on 16 cores of Intel servers rated a 100 PVU per core, the license price would be $2,608,000, and subscription and support starting annually in year-2 and thereafter would be 20% of the IBM license.

Clearly the value of actions users can take in response to data presented with business activity monitoring must be taken into account. Assuming that value can be determined, another consideration is how much data must be presented so value can be realized? Red Hat believes that users of JBoss BPM Suite can affect change within organizations using the included business activity monitoring capabilities. The ability to graphically present data drawn from a variety of sources is core functionality. The complexity of the data drawn can increase over time. Perhaps business activity monitoring starts with simple summaries of data being monitored. Perhaps BAM data sources expand to re-use data from and add realized value to existing data warehouses and analytics systems. Perhaps streaming data can be analyzed and patterns found therein using complex event processing. Maybe business rules can be applied to data characteristics to ensure consistent in analysis. Fortunately Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite business activity monitoring can cost effectively be applied to all of these scenarios and more.

1“License Information Documents.” Warranties, Licenses and Maintenance. IBM, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <http://www-03.ibm.com/software/sla/sladb.nsf/search/>. Search for License Ids: L-APIG-9EGFNS & L-APIG-9EGFLM

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