I recently got an update on release 8 of IBM’s Operational Decision Management product (last reviewed here).With this release, the user experience and the user interface have been completely overhauled and the integration between rules and events has been improved. The look and feel is also increasingly shared with the BPM product and, to be honest, with Blueworks Live.
The key driver for this release is what they call “consumerization of change” where regular business people make changes to the logic even though these rules are being managed at a large scale and applied in real-time and high volume in processes, applications and transactions. The overall architecture has not changed much with release 8 but the management interfaces have been extended with a Business Console. This complements the Enterprise Console (renamed functionality from v7), the Rule Solutions for Office Word and Excel interfaces and support for putting the interface into Business Spaces as a widget. Governance, visibility and collaboration are the three key pillars for rule management in IBM’s view so supporting versioning, snapshots and audit trails (governance) as well as easy to read rules and impact analysis (visibility) were a focus along with social collaboration capabilities. It is a first release of the Business Console so not everything is available through the new interface yet.
New features in release 8 include:
- A social conversation-style interface in the new Business Console
The Business Console is a web-based interface with multiple sections showing new rules, recent updates to business rules the user is following, new comments in the activity stream, a list of the rules the user is following and rules they recently worked on. All navigation is direct so it is easy to click and go edit a rule for instance. Rules can be followed simply by clicking on them and mousing over a rule shows additional information. Users can clear these lists when they are done reviewing changes. The comment stream itself is threaded so you engage in a conversation with your collaborators and comments are associated with projects or rules when entered in the context of a particular object.
- A list of projects is accessible also with those that have changed recently clearly identified and a mouse over shows additional data while a single click allows the project to be followed. A project can be opened and recent changes as well as the rules within the project viewed.
- A more full function search across the repository
Search now supports full text search, considering rule content as well as descriptions and comments. Faceted search capabilities allow restriction to specific rule types etc. Links from the search results allow direct access to rules for editing etc.
- A timeline of versions
As in previous releases users can easily create new versions of objects. In this release a timeline is displayed to show the various versions over time. Versions are included in the stream of comments when they are created. Users can also take snapshots of projects that gather up these versions and associate them. None of this requires manual synchronization of projects or repositories, everything is directly managed, and these snapshots also show up in the activity stream.
- New rule editor
The rule editor that was previously available in some interfaces is now integrated with the Business Console editor so navigating to a rule gives you, if you have the right permissions, access to the full editor complete with type ahead auto completion, vocabulary drop downs etc. Errors and problems are displayed inline as you work and context-sensitive help is available for the vocabulary. What’s new here is access to this editor from the Business Console and in particular the ability to navigate directly to it (from a search or recent update list say) without having to move around the repository hierarchy.
- New decision table editor
The new decision table editor has a revamped layout for better display with the ability to see a textual rule description of a given row or cell to give you an alternative view of the table, one rule at a time. Navigation of large tables has also been improved and once again you can navigate to the editor directly from the activity stream etc.
- Rules emit events, events invoke rules
Continuing the integration of the rules and business events products, the syntax for rules has been extended to allow events defined in the project to be emitted while the event handling syntax can invoke rules.
Lots of nice interface changes in this release and a clear statement of intent to bring a social, collaborative, business-friendly interface to bear on rule management.
You can get more information on IBM Operational Decision Management here and IBM is one of the vendors in our Decision Management Systems Platform Technology report.