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BEA looks to create a portal into SOA

BEA Systems' first major upgrade to the former Plumtree portal product features extensive business process management tooling in hopes of making it an integration point for SOA.

Everyone pays lip service to the importance of business process management (BPM) and now BEA Systems Inc. believes it's a created a portal which actually might get people to use it.

The portal is a good place to conduct that human interaction with the business process.
Christine Wan,
director of product marketingAquaLogic Interaction Process

The company has released what it calls the AquaLogic Interaction Process 1.5, a wordy designation for the upgraded version of the portal product it bought in last year's Plumtree Software Inc. acquisition. New to the portal is a BPM designer and execution engine along with collaboration tools.

BEA also sells the WebLogic Portal 8.1 product, but Christine Wan, director of product marketing for AquaLogic Interaction Process, explained that the WebLogic portal aims more at the hardcore Java developer while the AquaLogic portal aims at assembling a broad array of applications, including .NET applications, rather than developing them.

"This portal really is geared toward the business user, the knowledge workers who are involved in the business processes of these composite applications," Wan said. She noted that it attempts to give business analysts the ability to design processes within a service-oriented architecture.

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In many ways, according to Wan, the addition of BPM marks the maturation of the portal from the read-only models that first hit the market.

"Now we see our customers evolving in using the portal as a tool," she said. "It's more of what we call an application framework."

Key features in the release include:

  • A drag-and-drop process designer that supports both the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) and Business Process Modeling Notation specifications.
  • A process execution engine that handles security, message delivery and failover.
  • Worklist portlets that allow for searches, document attachments and customized views.
  • Collaboration tools for shared projects and team workflow management.
  • An interaction development kit that makes portal APIs accessible via a drag-and-drop tool.

    Wan said the reality of SOA is that it has to connect with the human element during tasks like expense approvals and order management.

    "There's a class of business processes where humans are involved in all steps, where there are many touch points," she said. "The portal is a good place to conduct that human interaction with the business process. It's a great delivery mechanism."

    JBoss Inc. has also been spreading its BPM wings, releasing jBPM 3.1. It features its own Java process definition language, BPEL and support for JBoss Seam pageflow.

    It has added asynchronous continuations and a configuration framework.

    Whether BPM turns into a killer app for the portal remains to be seen, but Wan believes it marks an attractive place to perform both application and human interaction. At the very least, the more than 21 million users of the former Plumtree product provide a large market in which to prove out the concept.

    "We think they're ready to take this next step," Wan said.

    This story originally appeared at, part of the TechTarget network.
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