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Subject: [ebxml-dev] Re: Addendum to Automating execution of Biz Processes (&BPSS)....

I was thinking over dinner (and cold Sam Adams) and wanted to add a few 
points to my response to Mike's comments:

>  Shall we agree to disagree? 

On second thought, this comment struck me as disappointing, since Mike did 
not respond to any of my specific arguments that automation of biz processes 
(and BPSS specs in particular) was not only desireable, but maybe should be 
virtually mandatory.

Let's leave aside the personal chest pounding and the "agreeing to disagree" 
(which is rather unproductive) and debate the merits of my and Mike's 
respective viewpoints instead.  I would much rather do that, as it will benefit 
the readers of this list, and the wider ebXML community as well.

Ball is in your court on this one, Mike.  Was your offer to "agree to disagree" a 
tacit admission of defeat, in the face of superior debate or will you address the 
points that were made? ;-)

I have an open mind and am willing to be convinced....

> I just think we have profound
> disagreement on the near term feasibility for general purpose business
> applications targeted toward SMEs.

This point also disturbed me, unsubstantiated as it was (not everyone has 
read Mike's suite of articles) and thus I felt it needed more discussion with 
respec to the topic of automated execution of biz processes.

SME's do not typically have, nor can they afford, IT departments (or 
consultants) and custom development of code (using Java, C#, C++ or any 
other procedural language for that matter).  This leaves them with three 
primary options (there may be more....Sam and I have come up with these 
three for now):

1) They continue they way they always have with primarily manual systems 
that are patched together in an adhoc manner.  I trust you will agree that this is 
not the ideal option?

2) They buy a totally turnkey, end to end business systems solution from a 
single source (or a collection of vendors that have conciously integrated their 
packages together) which supports something like ebXML out of the box for 
public B2B trading, and also comes with an integrated suite of back office 
applications (accounting, inventory management, MRP, Shop Floor, HR, etc.) 
where the integration of the public and private processes is delivered as a 
COTS package.  I don't know of any such solutions currently available.  I am 
also not overly confident that we will see any such in the short term, nor that 
they will be affordable by SME's if they are built (ERP systems and their 10
s of Millions of dollars plus price tags come to mind).  One of the problems that 
SME's (and large companies for that matter) encounter with this approach is 
that they put all their eggs in one basket....and give up the benefits of "best of 
breed" applications.  Integrated "all in one" app suites rarely shine in all areas. 
This would also require SME's to toss any investment they have in existing 
systems (training being the biggest factor for SME's I think) and replace their 
tried/true/familiar systems (like Quicken) with some other system.  Not likely!

3) The software industry delivers a modular ebXML B2B solution (that 
emcompasses MSH, BPM/BPSS, CPAs and such) that is affordable for 
SME's. And one that allows the easy integration of disparate back end 
systems (Quicken, etc....), very possibly (I would say even likely if the industry 
gets it's act together) by using Web Services interfaces that are exposed by 
those back end applications.

Seems to me that #3 is the most likely progressive solution that we might see 
(though I fear that the status quo, in #1 might be the most likely given human 
nature, at least in the short term), given current technological directions (ie.  
common integration architecture like Web Services that is 
technology/infrastructure/platform agnostic and widely accepted for the first 
time in history).

Assuming SME's and solution vendors move in the direction of #3, this 
DEMANDS automated execution of business processes, both private and 
public ones.  SME's, as noted above, don't/won't have IT resources to write 
procedural code....and so in scenario #3, they will absolutely have to have high 
level, visual/graphical process modelling tools that can generate a standard 
process specification (say BPSS for public, WSCI for private for arguments 
sake) AND they will need an automated BPM engine to execute these 
processes. Furthermore, with specification of Web Service interfaces to back 
end apps (using things like WSDL, WSCI and other specs which are evolving, 
hopefully coupled with good app vendor documentation of how to use these 
interfaces), the integration of the BPM to invoke the back end apps 
appropriately could be part of the visual "assembly" tools/metaphor (things like 
the syntax of WSDL, WSCI, etc. should/can be hidden from SME users of 
course).  If this biz process definition and app assembly can be made more 
business oriented (rather than technically oriented), then business 
owners/managers would be able to handle it themselves.  Or they could hire 
small consulting firms at reasonable rates that could do the integration for 
them very quickly (using these high level tools) and hence at affordable costs. 
They ain't gonna sling Java/C#/etc. to do this so what alternative is there?  

I submit that automated execution of business process, coupled with 
visual/graphical process modelling (in business terms) and facilitated 
integration with back end apps that expose coarse-grained web services 
interfaces will be absolutely critical if we are to see the adoption of ebXML (or 
something similar) in the SME space.

Again, I encourage you to debate the points I have made.  I may be wrong 
(wouldn't be the first time....just ask my wife ;-) )....or have missed certain 
angles/perspectives on the issue.....or not.

Or you can just "agree to disagree", Mike.  

BTW....let's not make this just Mike and I debating each other....there have to 
be other opinions/perspectives/thoughts on this issue that can help further the 
cause of ebXML out there?

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Pick it up if you dare. <grins>

Andrzej Jan Taramina
Chaeron Corporation: Enterprise System Solutions

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