Extracting Business Processes from Applications
Carsten Hentrich and Uwe Zdun
Business process orientation to information systems implies the convergence of business, organizational, and software models, and thus aims at providing a framework that allows designing and implementing business, technological, and organizational architecture in interdependence. The notion of (business) process is the driving and linking concept of all involved aspects.
The key principle in this context is separation of business logic from process logic. Practically, this means that the process logic will be taken out of applications and systems and will be flexibly controlled by a process-driven middleware. These middleware platforms allow for the definition and execution of business processes. A well-established process definition and execution language is, for example, the BPEL standard.
The flexibility is achieved by introducing an abstraction layer for process control with such process-driven middleware that allows changing the process flow definition more easily compared to static process implementation within application program code. For instance, consider an SOA where services can be flexibly composed in a business process flow with the help of such middleware. Figure 1 illustrates the decoupling of the process logic by giving an example of a customer entering an order, and further how this order will be processed within the organization. Decoupling is achieved using a process-driven approach that separates process logic from business logic and extracts the process logic from the application logic.
Figure 1. Decoupling Process Logic
From a business perspective, the decoupling of the process logic actually represents the most important transformational step that must be taken. Basically, this book will deal with the architectural implications of this transformational step and provide patterns as solutions for the recurring issues in this context. On a business architecture level, business processes themselves are understood as components that can be flexibly and easily changed, replaced, and reused on an enterprise wide basis and even across enterprise boundaries in order to connect and integrate the processes of different organizations. This is the foundational concept that actually enables business agility.
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