Activiti's take on BPM in the Cloud

Scott Francis
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I think this post by Activiti‘s Tom Baeyens reveals a blind-spot in the folks behind open source BPM tooling. To be clear: it isn’t a bad post, and I agree with his conclusions! Which are, summarized:
  • “hosting traditional BPM engine on the cloud is a big technical challenge with a relative low value for professional consumers”
  • The data manipulations required by BPM’s automated steps are too complicated to expect professional consumers to design in a webpage (the example given was getting contents from a spreadsheet into a pdf document).
  • “On the other hand, the trend to Advanced Case Management (ACM) really fits well into the cloud.”
  • “Dynamic management of tasks without a predefined flow matches perfect with the professional consumer needs and capabilities.” (Author’s note: whether you call it ACM or BPM, we understand what Tom is getting at here. )
So if I agree with his conclusions… what’s the problem?  Just that commercial companies have come to these same conclusions a few years earlier – and open source BPM projects have been more focused on building the engines than on exactly what the deployment architectures will be – and what the implications on product direction would be if you change those deployment choices.  So, it has been a blind spot – but that isn’t the end of the world. BPM in the cloud is still in its very early stages.  Even “ACM” in the cloud is in its infancy. Activiti (and others) have time to address the blind spot, and maybe something new and interesting will come out of new entrants to that combination of cloud and BPM/ACM. I’m looking forward to see what Tom and the team working on Activiti come up with. Tom’s writeup also confirms another conclusion I’ve long held about “ACM” as software implementation- it just isn’t as technically difficult to produce as a BPM platform (throw out all that integration stuff for example, and any notion of structure).  That isn’t some kind of badge of honor to be “more difficult” – it just means it may not be very defensible for a software company to build around, and it tends to look like a toy to customers, rather than a serious enterprise product that stands on its own.

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