First Look Corticon 5

April 5, 2011

in Business Rules, Product News

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A long established vendor in the business rules management space, Corticon describe themselves as focused on delivering better, faster decisions by automating business rules. They have 450+ customers across insurance, financial services, government, health and ecommerce and say they have seen rapid growth in revenues in 2010 and into 2011. They have just announced Corticon 5, the newest version of their Business Rules Management System (BRMS).  They believe their core differentiator is a better TCO, claiming faster delivery, faster change, less IT involvement and better performance.

Core to this value proposition is their rule sheet metaphor, which is intended to allow business people to model and manage all their rules, analyze and test them and build complete web-based self-service applications. Interestingly one of their recent wins is a competitive displacement of IBM ILOG from eBay for a new project. From a partner perspective, HP/EDS has selected Corticon as their standard BRMS and they have active projects with Deloitte and CSC as well as their long standing BPM partners (EMC, Appian, Tibco, Global360 Adobe).

Corticon announced RulesWorld some time ago and are recently launched RulesCloud, offering a hosted version of their rules engine in the cloud.

Corticon have a set of components in their BRMS – they also have a Dialogs product that will be covered later – and the BRMS is based around their Corticon Studio and Corticon Server. The Studio is aimed at both business and IT users (an unusual mindset in the BRMS market where it is more common to have some IT-centric tooling in an IDE and web-based editors that can be configured for business users. Data is accessed through their Enterprise Data Connector. These sit on the Corticon Foundation and are linked together with the Corticon Collaborator for rule lifecycle management.

New features since I last reviewed it a few years back (see this first look on Corticon from 2008) include:

  • The new studio is based on Eclipse and takes advantage of / integrates with other Eclipse-based tools as you would expect. Corticon Studio is available both as an Eclipse plug-in, and as a stand-alone fat client application.
  • Vocabulary based constraints where the vocabulary can have a constraint expression defined for each data type and reused across terms, rules and decision services. If data passed in fails these constraints, the Corticon rule engine automatically creates a violation message for further action.
  • Objects being processed with rules can use inheritance, allowing rules to be defined to run against a super class for instance (rules for People that work on Customers and Employees).
  • Ruleflow or decision flow that allows rulesheets can be sequenced and integrated within a single decision service. Rulesheets can be reused between ruleflows. Within ruleflows you can also call out to services as a step in the ruleflow using a simple service call out.
  • Unit test management has been enhanced so users can define the values expected and visualize any variance between actual and expected results.  Expected results can be included in JUnit tests also, allowing automation of regression testing.
  • Rule Statements can be managed for each rule, with descriptions and links to external documentation, like policies etc.
  • Scoping of input data into groups based on patterns (and specializing of these patterns into sub patterns). Counts and other facts about these groups can be used in rules and the groups can be referred to in rules simply regardless of the complexity of the definition of the group.  While Corticon has had this capability for some time, the new enhancements make the logic easier to express.
  • Native .Net deployment – Corticon continues to provide native deployment into both Java and .Net environments, with several enhancements in both environments .
  • Improved Performance and Scalability. Corticon claims that their performance and scalability have been important differentiators in several of their major recent deals and this release includes additional enhancements.
  • Corticon has enhanced their integration APIs and offer integration with open-source development environments to make it simple for partners and customers to incorporate the rules engine into their solutions and preferred software development infrastructure.

Corticon Collaborator is their repository environment.  Unusually, Corticon’s BRMS is designed to work equally well with an existing repository or with Collaborator. This allows, for instance, IDS Scheer to store Corticon rulesheets in their own repository,.  Collaborator, like Studio, is targeted at business analysts  and provides a central repository to manage all Corticon assets, as well as other project-related documents (e.g. specifications, excel tables).  Collaborator provides a typical hierarchical secured access control environment that enables version control, audit trails, approval workflows and notifications.  The latest version adds semantic search capabilities and basic social networking.

Corticon RulesCloud provides the Corticon Server product hosted on Amazon EC2and offers a variety of server instances, from low cost to high capacity options. RulesCloud uses the same web-based Server Console available in the on-premise Corticon Server to give secure access to deployment, monitoring, and measurement tools.

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