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A reader asks about business rules in Oslo

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A reader asked me last week about how I saw business rules engines fitting in with UML, SOA and Microsoft. The article discusses whether Microsoft’s Oslo strategy for SOA will be based on UML or merely offer support for it among many standards.

First, let me say that I think it is increasingly clear that application development is going to change a lot in the coming years (and is already doing so). To the point where I don’t think it will really be what we call application development any more. From what I know of Microsoft’s strategy they are trying to make sure that they support their core audience (developers) while also adapting to this reality. UML is part of that, so is support for process-centric standards like BPEL and BPMN.

Regardless of which modeling standards and approaches a developer uses, I think the case for externalizing and managing business rules remains compelling. Business rules, especially those implementing decisions, must be owned by the business and IT in collaboration and so code is a non-starter. A declarative, verbose, business-friendly approach to specifying business logic is a must today and will be even more so in the future. Microsoft has a fairly aggressive approach to its business process ecosystem and has included business rules vendors in that for a while. Their own support for rules and process and the support of their partners makes me think that rules, rule engines and rule management will be either part of the vision or at least very compatible with it.

I blogged about how I see business rules fitting with model-driven approaches (I think they complement each other) and wrote an article about SOA, rules and decision services before. If you are interested I will also be speaking at the SOA Symposium in October on Decision Services.

One last thing – domain specific languages. These come up a lot in Microsoft discusions and I am going to blog about them tomorrow.

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