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The Enterprise:
Business Process Management Software Vendors, Part 4: Intalio|n3

  Column published in DM Review Magazine
December 2005 Issue
  By Clive Finkelstein

This current series of columns covers major business process modeling software vendors and their products used to automatically generate executable XML-based business process modeling code from process diagrams using business process modeling languages. In previous months I have covered Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004, IBM WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation, Oracle BPEL Server and SAP NetWeaver. This month we will look at Intalio, a vendor in the new category of business process modeling products.

Business Process Management System Vendor

Each vendor that we discussed in earlier months has existing software products in other categories to which they are adding business process modeling capabilities to move those products into the business process modeling market. In contrast, Intalio was established in 1999 specifically to develop business process modeling system software solely for this market. This is a new category of software products specifically developed to support execution of business process modeling languages.

Intalio was a cofounder of the Business Process Management Initiative in August 2000. In April 2003, Intalio joined IBM and Microsoft in cosubmitting the BPEL 1.1 specification to OASIS. It has been an active participant in the definition of all three business process modeling languages: BPML, BPEL and WSCI.

The Intalio|n3 business process modeling system product was first released in February 2002, with version 2.0 launched in February 2003.1 The Intalio|n3 product architecture comprises Intalio|n3 Server, Designer, Director and Projectors.

Intalio|n3 Server: This is the runtime server for the execution of business processes. It is written in Java, built around a process transaction engine for asynchronous execution for both short and long-running transactions. It includes a process execution optimizer for both BPML and BPEL processes that can also be extended to support future process modeling languages. It also supports WSCI for defining the interfaces of business processes. This allows processes within existing applications and workflow systems to be exposed as virtual processes that can be reused within the context of larger business processes.

Intalio|n3 Designer: This is a process design tool for use by business analysts, software engineers and systems administrators. It is used to model business processes, binding them to external systems and user interfaces for execution deployment to the Intalio|n3 Server. Existing business processes can be imported from many business process modeling tools; these include Casewise Corporate Modeler, IDS Scheer ARIS, Microsoft Visio, MEGA Process, Popkin System Architect and Proforma ProVision.

Alternatively, the Intalio|n3 Designer process modeling capability can be used. This uses business process modeling notation, discussed earlier in this series of columns. Business process modeling notation may eventually emerge as a standard for process modeling. It reflects the process constructs offered by BPML and BPEL and supports all language constructs of these two languages, as discussed earlier.

In addition, any process designed with Intalio|n3 Designer can be turned into a reusable process by automatically generating its public interface using WSCI in one mouse click. This can then be dragged and dropped as a process within any other business process. This allows common processes to be easily shared for reuse.

The Intalio|n3 Designer includes a data transformation mapping editor based on XML schema, so that any complex schema can be mapped into any other schema graphically. It uses a process repository that can be deployed on any existing RDBMS to support collaborative development of executable business processes. Further, it offers process modeling support for check-in/checkout, versioning and role-based access control and can be integrated with source control systems such as Merant PVCS, Microsoft Visual SourceSafe and Rational ClearCase. It supports both top-down and bottom-up development, monitoring all changes to process models that are committed to the repository by using a process life cycle management approach.

Intalio|n3 Director: This enables employees, customers and partners to direct the execution of business processes and carry out business activity monitoring tasks, using many existing workflow engines, groupware systems and enterprise portals. It supports development of workflow-driven user interfaces for advanced workflow requirements such as complex alert escalation and task assignment and delegation.

The Intalio|n3 Director offers an extensive range of design widgets to develop highly interactive process portlets. This includes simple widgets for building static forms, as well as sophisticated widgets for development of interactive reports and process dashboards.

Intalio|n3 Projector: These are process-level middleware components designed to provide connectivity to any process, user or system without writing any code. These Projectors can be used at designtime by Intalio|n3 Designer and also at runtime by Intalio|n3 Server.

Intalio|n3 Projectors provide the capability - discussed earlier for Intalio|n3 Designer - to import existing processes from process modeling tools such as Casewise, ARIS, Visio, System Architect and ProVision. This connectivity is at the process level rather than at the message or transaction level. Existing processes can be exposed for reuse as process components within larger end-to-end business processes.

Projectors allow the workflow execution metamodels of existing groupware systems and workflow engines to be mapped to Intalio|n3 Server. This enables workflow processes to also be directly imported into Intalio|n3 Designer as process interface processes. As a result, support is provided for connection to: Invensys iBaan, JD Edwards OneWorld, Oracle e-Business Suite 11i, PeopleSoft, SAP R/3, and Siebel e-Business. As evident from the Intalio Web site, connections with the following products are also supported: IBM DB2 UDB; Microsoft SQL Server 2000; Oracle8i and 9i; Software AG ADABAS; Sybase ASE; IBM Directory Server, Lotus Domino; Microsoft Active Directory; IBM Legacy products CICS, IMS and VSE/VSAM; and many other middleware products from BEA, Borland, IBM, IONA, Microsoft and TIBCO.

It is clear that a product such as Intalio|n3 is the direction of business process modeling systems for the future. With its existing native support for BPML, BPEL and its use of WSCI, Intalio has taken a greenfields approach. It does not need to migrate customers from proprietary environments, as do other business process modeling products that we discussed in previous months. Its ability to import existing processes from many process modeling tools - with projectors to connect a variety of external process sources - allow it to take ready advantage of future developments in the business process modeling market.

Next month concludes the series of columns on SOA, business process modeling languages and products.  


  1. Intalio|n3 product details are available directly from http://www.intalio.com/. Details about the Business Process Management Initiative are available from http://www.bpmi.org/.

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Clive Finkelstein, the father of information engineering (IE), is an international consultant and an instructor. He is the managing director of Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd (IES) in Australia. You may contact Clive Finkelstein by e-mail at cfink@ies.aust.com.

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