Product profile

BusinessWorks 5.4 provides the enterprise service bus that ties business services to business processes within SOA environments.

Tibco adds 'glue' to SOA structures

BusinessWorks 5.4 is Tibco's implementation of an enterprise service bus (ESB), an important component in any SOA (service orientated architecture) implementation. As part of the SOA service-orchestration layer, sandwiched between the service-enablement layer and the process-orchestration layer, the ESB has the job of routing communication between business services and processes.

BusinessWorks supports leading communications standards and protocols including HTTP/S, FTP, SMTP, JDBC and JMS, as well as Web services capabilities including a SOAP processor and support for SOAP over JMS (Java message service) and HTTP/S. It provides functions such as mediation of messages, in which a SOAP message, for example, could be received over HTTP and sent back out via JMS.

The ESB runs on a variety of operating systems including Windows 2000, XP, and Windows Server 2003; Solaris 2.7, 8, 9 and 10 (SPARC); HP-UX 11.x; Linux 2.4 and above; and AIX 5.1 and above. Installation in the Windows version involves a simple wizard that asks basic configuration questions before setting up the software. The core element of BusinessWorks itself is the rules engine, accessed through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), called the SmartMapper, which displays a series of flowchart type events.

The SmartMapper GUI has been designed to let business managers create and maintain cross-referencing and code conversion relationships between different applications and sets of data. In doing so, it enables those managers to build an enterprise-wide repository of data relationships that can be easily modified without the help of IT staff, according to Tibco. When a significant event occurs, such as an email being received or an order being placed, the BusinessWorks rules engine makes a series of decisions to determine how the event should be advanced via a series of routine sequences of tasks.

Defined by the administrator in advance, a wide range of actions can be specified, ranging from 'yes' or 'no' answers, to data lookup or transformation functions. For example, if the event trigger starting off a particular process is an email, the software can parse that message to extract product numbers, sender addresses and other important information.

One gripe is that while BusinessWorks provides details on a number of process executions and execution times, it only does so on a process-by-process basis. This leaves users needing to drill-in and out of individual processes to find out the number of times that a JDBC query has executed, for example, and what the average execution time had been. Nor are there any direct drill-down capabilities in the user interface to get from an outer orchestration to an inner orchestration.

BusinessWorks provides the option to terminate long-running or errant orchestrations and its debugging facilities and conditional breakpoint functionality to support testing and validation of projects within the software design environment are solid enough. The management tools and the XSLT-based mapping tool and transformation engine are not quite as sophisticated as those found in rival ESB products, but are nonetheless efficient.

The software's real strength comes in making calls to external applications, such as automatically opening-up and searching a CRM database to match the name and address of the customer, or contacting an SMTP server to forward an order confirmation, for example.

BusinessWorks uses a series of adaptors to communicate with these other applications, which are either application specific or based on implementations of standard protocols such as HTTP, LDAP, SMTP, SNMP, SOAP and TCP/IP. Available application specific adapters include those for JD Edwards, SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Lotus Notes, and Oracle E-Business Suite. Most of these have to be purchased separately however, which adds to the overall implementation cost, as do database adapters for Oracle, DB2, MS SQL Server, Teradata, and Sybase among others.

BusinessWorks also contains a series of network technology adapters to allow integration with component- and object-based development tools using COM, CORBA, EJB, Tuxedo, LDAP, and Websphere MQ, with a software development kit (SDK) that allows organisations to build adaptors. Version 5.4 now provides support for the Web Services BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) 2.0 specification, or OASIS, which uses XML to orchestrate multiple Web services.

It can handle various brands of Java EE and .NET application servers, and uses the central XML repository to store process definitions, transformation and routing logic, security and policy rules and shared metadata that can help developers collaborate on software projects.

It also supports new adaptors for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and Oracle 10g R2 databases as well as Apache Tomcat 5.x and Jakarta 3.x Java technologies.

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