Kemsley Covers Activiti BPM Updates by

Sandy Kemsley’s Column 2 blog has an update covering new functionality, and new partners, with Activiti BPM:

I had a briefing on the latest version of Alfresco’s Activiti BPM a couple of months back, but decided to wait until the news about their new partnersBP3 and Edorasware – was released before I posted. This strong showing of enterprise support partners is crucial for them following the defection of camunda from the Activiti fold, since many large enterprises won’t deploy an open source product without some level of support from the open source vendor directly or via their partner channel.

She covered several of the new features :

  • Ad-hoc collaborative tasks
  • Table-based process definition – which is, interestingly, similar to a prototype that preceded Blueworks Live at Lombardi – and eventually led to Blueprint being developed.
  • Enhanced process definitions
  • Instance management functions (suspend process definition and its instances)
  • SMS integration, etc.

And for the future:

  • Hybrid workflow that allows on-premise and cloud (including instant deployment on CloudBees) for different tasks in same flow, solving the issue of exposing part of process to external participants without putting the entire process off premise.
  • Project KickStart, which builds on the table-driven process definition that I saw in the demo to provide better UI form display (making a real contender as a runtime environment, rather than just for prototyping) and the ability to make changes to the process definition on the fly.
  • Polyglot BPM, allowing Activiti to be called from other (non-Java) languages via an expanded REST API and language-specific libraries for Ruby, C#, Javascript and others.

It is this last couple categories where, over time, we think we can help – defining or building interesting things with the REST API, and building good UI tooling for Activiti.

After talking about all the fun product stuff, Sandy turned her attention to BP3 and Activiti.

I also talked with Scott Francis of BP3 about their new Activiti partnership; apparently the agreement was unrelated to the camunda departure, but definitely well-timed. I was curious about their decision to take on another BPM product, given their deep relationship with IBM (and formerly with Lombardi), but they see IBM BPM and Activiti as appealing to different markets due to organizational cultural choices.

Pretty much exactly as I see it.  Unfortunately the rest of her post tended to focus on challenges – without discussing the great opportunities ahead, not to mention, giving due credit to the skills, methods, and attention to customer success that BP3 brings to the table.  I wrote a few comments below her blog post which I’ll repeat, lightly edited, here:

I’m encouraged by the direction and progress that the Activiti BPM folks have made over the last 6 months, and I think BP3 is well-positioned to help. I thought I’d give you a few updates on BP3 and Activiti –

1. We see open-source vs. commercial as largely a cultural choice within our [potential] customer base – so far we haven’t observed any channel conflict at all, but obviously that is something we’ll treat with care. We’ll continue to be a great IBM BPM champion and advocate and partner – and we also aspire to be a great Activiti BPM partner

2. BP3 has had customers on other products – at the time we talked we didn’t have any active projects on other products (We’ve done some work with customers who use Oracle, Bonitasoft, and Appian in the past).

3. Since we talked, we now have established our first Activiti customer relationship – [interestingly, just before the announcement came out. ]  – Naturally, having just announced a new service offering – enterprise support- which didn’t previously exist for Activiti, we were starting from the ground floor.

4. You’re right, we’re not reassigning our Lombardi/IBM BPM consultants -they have their hands full with work already! However, we have the scale and financial wherewithal to hire for Activiti BPM. We’ve already made our first new hire in that area and we’re reassigning one of our technical consultants to it as well. 

5. re: support: we are, in fact, providing both development support and production support. Our first customer is a development support customer, but we have a few requests in for production support as well, which we’re working on putting on paper.

It turns out, our investment in building our BP Labs subscription offerings for IBM BPM customers translates well to helping with product (and production) support for Activiti. We’re already staffed in more than one geography and have many of the right skills on that team to cover our needs. We have a couple folks on our team that worked in Lombardi’s support organization, and we understand how to run a support operation – we’ve been thoughtful about our approach to subscription and support services (and after all, Lance and I helped get such services kick-started at Lombardi as well, so we have some opinions on how it should work).

6. We’re looking at how to contribute a good mobile / UI framework to Activiti, based on what we’ve learned building Brazos for IBM BPM. Fun stuff to figure out.  We’re not just going to tinker in the existing engine code, we want to contribute something significant and new as well.

We have a lot of work to do to prove ourselves in the Activiti BPM community, but I hope that Activiti customers will give us a chance, given our prior investment and reputation within the IBM BPM and Lombardi communities. It is precisely this reputation and mutual respect that led us to work with Activiti BPM folks and Alfresco in the first place! Early signs are really positive -

 

I should also mention- we have experience on our team with Activiti in a high volume environment – that expertise has been invaluable so far, and having access to it is going to really help us kick-start our efforts.

The real focus, of course, will quickly turn to helping customers be successful.  Regardless of the technology, customer success and ROI are where we keep our focus.