Enterprise Modelling

Book Review:

J. Wagner, K. Schwarzenbacher: Förderative Unternehmensprozesse (Federated Business Processes), Technologies, Standards and Perspectives of Network Systems, (in German).


With its focus on technologies for interoperation of inter-organisational business systems, the book provides a good source of information on the current state of the art, providing a short outlook on the future as well. The authors present a range of core concepts for modelling, implementing and monitoring business processes. Starting with requirements of business application and their infrastructure, several technologies for service oriented architectures are presented and methodologies and tools for process design and monitoring of federated business processes are described. The main chapters of the book address technology related subjects like service-oriented architectures, workflow-controlled services, web and grid services, federated data management, information and communication portals. Related products and standards are identified.

Federated business processes are understood by the authors as a concept to organise contract-based co-operations between independent organisations, which support the exchange of information, products and services. One of the key advantage of the concept of federation is the hiding of the internal structure of the individual processes and their internal knowledge from the participating organisations as much as possible. Only those objects that are to be exchanged will be disclosed to the collaborators. This means partners still have the freedom to change and improve their processes without violating the co-operation agreements. But to interoperate across organisational boundaries, process interfaces have to be provided that enable the desired exchange.

Service-oriented architectures will use web service- and portlet-based applications as re-useable building blocks for the design of business processes. These applications are linked by workflows and use service based infrastructures to support their execution. Such architectures can be structured differently.

Structuring by server leads to 4-tier architectures with consumer (networks), portal (web servers), process (application servers) and resource (data base servers, etc.) layers.

Structuring by abstraction provides an additional structure, which is orthogonal to the first one. This has lead to the development of specific infrastructure services or middleware.

Structuring by business objects follows the object-orientation paradigm, allowing to hide object internals. However, the authors state the problems with business objects due to their undefined behaviour, which will occur in many object instances. The latter is due to the multiple interdependencies of object data and the many relations between the business objects themselves.

Structuring by workflows provides isolation between business functionalities and their connecting control flow thereby allowing changes to either one without changing the other.

Products which are applicable in the different areas mentioned above are presented from: BEA Systems, Brainloop, IBM, IDS Scheer, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Siebel. A final chapter identifies relevant standards defined by industry consortia for the areas of communication, workflow, platforms (workflow, web service and collaboration), domain models, security and content (access and representation).

Siemens, Publicis Corporate Publishing, Erlangen, 2004, ISBN 3-89578-231-9, http://www.publicis-erlangen.de/books.

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