New JBoss BPM Suite Business Process Management Solution Enhances Microservices

Original author: George Lawton
At the Red Hat Summit 2016 conference, architects of financial systems gave a presentation where they talked about their experience with microservices.


During the Red Hat Summit conference, financial experts discussed how banks and other financial institutions re-use business process management systems in conjunction with microservices. The new approach uses Red Hat JBoss middleware enhancements to simplify application development. Now architects of corporate information systems can separate small components that manage business processes from the rules, thereby accelerating the launch of specialized financial products on the market.

“With microservices, you can easily upgrade the components of a business process management system,” said Andrew Bonham, corporate systems architect at Capital One, an American corporation. “In traditional service-oriented architectures, services are managed by a coordinator. Microservices use a more reactive architecture in which each service is pre-programmed. ”

Bonham recommends that enterprise system architects divide processes into smaller components by integrating business process management mechanisms into applications and use rule simulations. This approach allows banks to accelerate testing of new financial products. In addition, banks are developing metadata management tools to track versioned rules used in transaction processing. This simplifies the separation of rule management from the business process management infrastructure without compromising risk management and compliance.

Avoid enlarging system components

Bonham drew attention to the fact that as the mechanisms for managing business processes expand, companies tend to turn them into one monolithic application. He recommended not to enlarge the components of systems and not to create dependencies between them, but to ensure interaction between components through atomic operations. He also noted that a monolithic application is characterized by a large number of dependencies, which makes it difficult to update it.

JBoss supports a variety of approaches for integrating autonomous and embedded business process management mechanisms into enterprise applications. An autonomous mechanism for managing business processes runs on a separate server that interacts with other processes using REST interfaces. According to Bonham, this approach helps to separate business processes from the API, which simplifies the experimental verification of concepts and allows you to maintain the structure of the API.

“It is also useful in situations where you need to use a comprehensive management system in several departments or processes,” Bonham added.

The meeting participants also came to the conclusion that it is important to consider the place of deployment of the control mechanism and the application in the data center, since the use of one mechanism by several applications can be problematic. During one of its projects, Capital One Corporation placed applications in different data centers, which led to delays in the exchange of information.

Bonham noted that embedding a business process management mechanism in an application improves its productivity due to the lack of overhead associated with network requests. In addition, embedding provides a number of additional features that are not available with API integration.

“This approach needs to be used in stateless transactions, as well as where rules are followed and state preservation is not required,” Bonham explained.

Make settings, not program

One of the topics of the meeting was the experience of Infosys Ltd., which is moving its core banking application to a private cloud-based infrastructure.

Finacle's corporate platform processes 16.5% of all banking transactions of the company. Peter Loop, vice vice president and chief technical architect at Infosys, said the company intends to move from writing service code to customizing applications. The meaning of this transition is to enable various business areas to quickly create new banking products.

According to Loop, implementing automatic access to the system is not difficult at all; it’s more difficult to integrate manual processes into the system. Infosys has developed an adapter for manually assigning tasks, which now enables the management of automatic and manual business processes in one place.

Loop noted that this approach works successfully, but there is a problem with managing transaction metadata. To solve it, Infosys has developed metadata for its application that matches the rule sets that apply to business processes. This allows you to customize banking products (for example, certain types of loans) using spreadsheets. Managers integrate the rules into new banking products faster than the developer implements them in the application programmatically.

Emanuel Montrasi, a leading developer of the Italian company SIA, noted that there is another effective approach, which is to create a simulation environment for testing new rules. It gives business analysts the ability to simulate new rules and verify the correctness of their work. After the simulation, the new rule can be sent to the approver, who permits its use in the business environment.

Separate management systems from rules and infrastructure

According to Loop, microservices provide an opportunity to implement internal infrastructure separately from rule management. Thanks to this approach, the bank can update the basic infrastructure without affecting the rules, and specialists in various business areas change the rules without involving an IT service to change the infrastructure.

Loop also noted the importance of applying version control to rules. Infosys has developed a source management system for spreadsheets that managers use. Loop added that this system is important for risk management and compliance, as banks need to associate transactions with metadata that contains information about the rules that apply to these transactions.

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