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ARIS for Microsoft BizTalk

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by Peter Müller in ARIS BPM Blog posted on 2008-07-17

Many analysts and customers wonder how Microsoft’s SOA strategy will evolve in the coming months and years. I cannot tell you how Microsoft's implementation of SOA will look like in general, but I would like to share some details with you concerning the combined SOA approach of Microsoft and IDS Scheer.

As you might know, there is a strategic partnership between Microsoft and IDS Scheer for roughly a year now and the first tangible result will become available with the upcoming service release of the ARIS Platform at end of July.

The release will offer a new product "ARIS for MS BizTalk" that helps customers to make the step from a business process towards an automated process in a BizTalk environment. For those of you who are not familiar with the Microsoft world: BizTalk is Microsoft's main product for process execution and messaging and one of the most often installed execution engines on our planet.

"ARIS for MS BizTalk" is actually an add-on to ARIS SOA Architect and makes life easier for customers that want to use ARIS for enterprise modelling and MS BizTalk as execution platform. The overall scenario is as follows: The business analyst models his process view in the well-known EPC notation. In a second step, processes slated for execution are transformed into a more technical representation, typically by creating models of type BPMN or BPEL. For the latter, this is even done automatically by SOA Architect, for BPMN, such a feature will be available quite soon.

Now, where does the new add-on functionality comes into play? "ARIS for MS BizTalk" first of all offers so-called semantic checks that verify if a given technical BPEL or BPMN process can be successfully converted into a MS representation (called orchestration). Simple example: if an XOR splits the flow into several branches, it must be ensured that these branches merge again in order to fulfil the block-orientation of a MS orchestration.

Microsoft BizTalk

Once the technical process on the ARIS side is deemed ready, an automatic export feature is available that creates a full-fledged MS Visual Studio 2005 project. It includes not only the orchestration but also auxiliary artefacts such as the schemas (for data types) and web services that were used in the BPMN or BPEL model.

This greatly helps in bridging the gap between business and IT: BizTalk developers can take the generated project and immediately start working on low-level details (e.g. exception handling, data copying). They no longer have to spend time to build up the overall process logic from scratch. This greatly boosts the overall turnover-time from process modelling to execution.

But the story does not end here. How do I monitor and analyse my automated processes? Microsoft offers Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) for the BizTalk platform, but their product has limited analysis capabilities and therefore meets only basic needs. Much more insight becomes possible by using high-performance software like ARIS PPM, which is dedicated to process monitoring and analysis. Therefore, "ARIS for MS BizTalk" also includes a BizTalk-specific data extractor that pulls the information from the BAM database and hands it over to the PPM server for further analysis.

Read more about ARIS for MS BizTalk: www.aris.com/biztalk

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