The latest version of Oracle's Business Process Analysis (BPA) Suite is aimed squarely at getting business users more involved in business process modeling and service-oriented architecture (SOA) initiatives.
Released yesterday, the new version of Oracle's BPA Suite lets IT developers and business analysts collaborate more effectively, while providing support for business process management standards, including the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), according to Oracle. This is the Oracle BPA Suite's first major revamp since the offering made its debut last December.
Oracle's chief competitors in the BPM market include Tibco, IBM and Software AG's webMethods division. Oracle has become a leader in the market, thanks largely to a deal it struck with IDS Scheer in August 2006, according to Ken Vollmer, a principal analyst with Forrester. Under the deal, Oracle was permitted to add Aris, IDS Scheer's business process modeling platform, to its Oracle Fusion Middleware Suite.
The Aris component of Oracle's BPA Suite is what makes possible greater collaboration between business and IT, the analyst explained, because it provides the ability to automatically translate business analysts' notations into BPEL.
"[The BPA Suite] enables business users to work in a tool that gives them a process modeling capability, and they can then pass that off to the developer," Vollmer said. "The business analyst sees different things on the [computer] than what the developer sees, but it's all coordinated behind the scenes, so nothing is lost."
Oracle refers to this capability as closed-loop development.
"If anything is changed in our BPEL Designer by the developer, it gets reflected in the model," said Rick Schultz, Oracle's vice president of Fusion Middleware. "If you're publishing a process, or you're simulating a process, or you're doing process analysis, as a business analyst, you'll see the changes made by the IT development staff and vice versa."
Keeping up with the Joneses
Starting with the IDS Scheer deal, Oracle has done a solid job of keeping up with public demand for BPM technologies, according to Vollmer.