Bitch slappin’ BPMS: a BPMN and BPEL war of words

July 10th, 2008 by Alex

Bitch slappin\' BPMS

Yeah, baby! Ain’t nuthin’ like a good blog war-o-words. And a juicy one has just broken out between two influential voices: Nick Malik and Bruce Silver. And I suspect we haven’t seen the last of it. (At least I hope we haven’t. July is a slow month; we could use some American Gladiators-style trash talkin’ right about now.)

Apparently, Nick found the top dead center of the button you shouldn’t push in Bruce’s mind: he says BPM is never going to live up to expectations that non-developers will create applications.

In reply, Bruce — slappin’ Nick right upside the head – replies that Nick has to “prove” his assertion by showing that someone — anyone — in the “BPM community” has made a claim that modeling leads directly to completed applications.

While I hope the histrionics continue, this is really nothing more than two purists trying to keep their rivers from converging.  (I gotta admit that I find these near-screaming matches to be more educational than so-called “polite debate” for the very simple reason that they strip out the fluff in favor of direct frontal attacks everyone can understand.)

We all know from long, bitter experience that the “third rail” in the Microsoft world (touch it and die) is developers. MSFT will do what it takes to keep developers tied to the Windows API. Anything that could loosen that death-grip is a danger, and that includes end users working in standards-based tools that could care less about the underlying OS.

And from what I’ve read about the “BPM community” there’s a fair bit of wishful thinking there, too. Bruce is probably correct that no responsible entity has claimed what he believes Nick is claiming. Yet, you don’t have to say the “E” (execution) word outright to lead people to the conclusion that your BPMS does it directly from pretty pictures. Go ahead, spend five minutes on Lombardi’s site and tell me you don’t see it there.

What do we care? Well, let me be the first to pre-announce our upcoming ActiveVOS release, scheduled for mid-August, in which we actually converge the rivers. We will have the most complete BPMN modeling capabilities and, of course, we have the world’s best and most complete BPEL deployment, execution and management system.

ActiveVOS will make it possible for business users to come very, very close to execution via BPMN. And we believe that developers will take that non-executable model and “finish” it in a 100%-standards-based environment that frees them and their businesses from .NetJail.

Forgive me the nested platitude, but the issue boils down to that old saw that says, “Get the right tool for the job.” Developers need modern, standards-based languages that execute on the metal; business analysts need modern, standards-based ways to describe what systems have to accomplish. Being doctrinaire about which is the “correct” way to serve business and IT is beside the point.

So, while it’s fun to see the purists bloody each other, we intend to deliver an implementable, cost-effective and complete way to achieve what neither side really seems to want. And that, dear readers, is what a visual orchestration system is all about.

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One Response to “Bitch slappin’ BPMS: a BPMN and BPEL war of words”

  1. Bruce Silver Says:

    Slapped down good, I guess, since so far Nick has shut up, not put up. I don’t think I’m a purist, but I am a member of the so-called BPM community, and while that community does not speak with a single voice, I think I’m correct in saying Nick’s characterization of BPM is an outsider “making it up.” One quibble I have with your piece is that point-click implementation design without code – even if you do it all in BPMN proper (impossible) – is not the same as implementation by business users. It sounds like your company, along with many others in the BPMS world, is offering the former. I think the nub of the issue is that the target user of your design tool or Lombarardi’s is considered by guys like Nick to be a “business user.” Real business users would laugh at this (or like me, consider it just out of touch).

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