Savvion today announced it has released a Business Rules Management System. Now this may suprise you – after all Savvion is a Business Process Management vendor – but I think it is a sign of the growing recognition that decision management is important to business process management. Before this announcement Savvion was using Yasu’s product but, when that was acquired by SAP, they decided to develop their own.
While the new product is not the most sophisticated BRMS on the market, Savvion has done a nice job with the first version. They have provided an Eclipse-based environment that is integrated with their Eclipse-based BPMS tools but that creates independent projects. These can be deployed with a process or separately and so support both Savvion and non-Savvion applications. This is a key feature as decisions, and the rules within them, must often be reused across applications, channels and processes so restricting the decisions to execution within a process (as many BPMS vendors do) will not work. When integrated with business processes defined in Savvion then the rules and decisions consume the same information model – speeding development and easing integration. This new feature is in addition to their existing event rules where simple decisions can be defined with expression builder in the process modeler.
The core interface is what Savvion calls a decision table but that I consider a Rule Sheet:
- Each row is a rule
- Different columns represent the various variables used in conditions
- Each cell contains a specific condition against the variable of that column
- One or more actions are defined for each row
The rules can also be defined in Excel and then imported. The rules can be modified in Savvion’s portal allowing business users to maintain the rules in the same environment they monitor and manage their processes. The rules projects can be called as part of the process definition and as part of the presentation definition (for user interface elements built with Savvion). When working on processes or presentations you can navigate directly to the rules being used and manage them. Inferencing execution (using Rete) is supported as is a reasonable set of deployment options (stateless, stateful). All the process APIs can be executed by rules allowing for rules to drive the process nicely and everything is stored in the existing Savvion repository giving you versioning, access control etc. All in all a nice package, taking advantage of Savvion’s existing tools and repository.
I am pleased to see Savvion release this as I think it is important that BPM vendors get serious about decision management and that they realize (as Savvion did) that this is not the same as supporting process control rules. I really like the option to independently deploy the decisions as this helps people to manage process and rules as peers, another crucial step.
This is clearly part of a broader trend. SAP added Yasu to improve its rules capability in Netweaver, albeit only as part of the process definition. IBM is acquiring ILOG, presumeably allowing for independent decisions as well as improving the support for decisions inside WebSphere and FileNet. Pega has long had a rules-based approach to process management. With Savvion supporting not just rules in the process but independent decisions also I expect to see this trend continue.