Advanced CAMP – Enterprise Workflow Morning Session

I’m in Burlington Vermont – just after the flood – attending the EDUCAUSE Advanced Camp on Workflow Models and Technologies. This meeting has a wiki space at Internet2.

Paul Hill, Bob Morgan – Opening Presentation

Discussion around “what is workflow”

Is there a difference between Human Workflow and Business Process Orchestration?

Industry will use the term workflow loosely – it can mean a generic business process, it can mean document management, it can mean orchestration…

A good qoute. The previous paradigm was humans trying to get the most out of the computer. “Workflow is about the computer getting the most out of the human elements” When you do have to touch a human, make that as efficient as possible.

Workflow and Middleware

(1)To extend the workflow across multiple system, processing must interact with AuthN/Z and directory services using existing MWare infrastructure.

(2)Workflow can be used to facilitate the management of IdM and AuthN/Z systems. Sun made recent announcements about adding workflow to their IdM system.

Microsoft Published an Architecture journal that was focused on Workflow.

Approval processes in privilege management systems

Persona A can have role B with approval of person C. Tom Barton states that a good privilege management system alleviates the needs for the workflow for approval.

Other areas: Shibboleth approval processes. Virtual Organizations (VO). If VOs have the same need for workflow as real organizations, how do you deploy a workflow solution across a Virtual Organization?

WS-BPEL as presented by Joe Sharp, Architect, Microsoft. Connected Systems Division.

Orchestration vs. Choreography :

Orchestration: Execution order of web services interactions, describes process flow, includes internal and external webservices, process is always controlled by one party.

Choreography: Between different parties. Peer to Peer. Tracks the sequence of messages involving multiple parties and sources. Public message exhanges, not executable process.

BPEL standard does not yet support the definition of industry standard BPEL languages.

BPEL is Web services specific. It is WSDL only. The efforts today is focused on the execution language. The choreography portion is not in focus at this point in time. New efforts are spinning up to deal with the choreography portion. BPEL 2.0 should be out later this year.

Open source BPEL products: Twister, bexee

BPEL “Opportunities” – Compensation Patterns – the ability to roll back transactions based on a failure at a future point in time. Some portions should be rolled back, others may not. Compensation means doing another business transaction to compensate for a business traction that really occurred. Since in workflow, the business transactions occur and the events really occur. You cannot “undo” the cutting of check or the digging of a trench. You have to trigger a second business process to request a refund or fill the trench.

Karl Frank – Borland and OMG

Specialized in modeling business process – contributor to UML 2 and 2.1, BPDM, etc.

UML2.X – State Transition Diagram and Activity Diagram are related to workflow business process modeling.

Model Driven Architecture – capture the required business functionality without contamination of implementation specifics.

Merger with BPMI (Business Process Management Institute) – Business Process Definition Metamodel, Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). These do not separate out Orchestration from Choreography.

UML Behavior Diagrams – Statemachines for Workflow artifacts. What state is the loan application in?

BPMN model does not generate BPEL out of the box. You need to know which parts of BPMN are implemented in the BPEL specification.

Scott Thorne, Architect MIT and OKI

Reasons for doing workflow: the business process will probably outlive the technical implementation therefore having a generic model is important. Allows developers to focus on application specific technologies not rewriting infrastructure functions.

When you are designing you Web services, spend the time to be sure that you have vetted the designs with a wide variety of consumers to plan for changes in the future.

OKI Project Site

Education Commons dot Org

James Dalziel, Director, Macquarie ELearning Centre of Excellence(MELCOE), Macquarie University

MAMS – Identity and access management – leading Shibboleth rollout 500K+ identities. Developing Sharpe and Autograph

LAMS – eLearning workflow system


RAMP (Research Activityflow and Middleware Priorities)

  1. Part 1 – Authorization – generalized library using XACML
  2. Part 2 – Activityflow – “People-based workflow” for eResearch. Especially concurrent multi-actor multi-step workflows. Demonstrator of re-usable activityflows (builds on LAMS 2 core). Theoretical review of workflow standards and concepts
  3. Part 3 – Authorization/Activityflow fusion exploration.

LAMS – based on new field of “Learning Design” based on IMS Learning Design specification. Goes beyond that. Web app (J2EE+Flash) Open source (GPL). Any teacher could create and run. Core concepts of LAMS are not e-learning specific. Concurrent multi-actor, multi-step workflow systems. LAMS community site with about 1300 community developed flows.

I’m very intrigued with the LAMS project. Could we use this for Architecture requirements gathering? Here is our standard workflow(s). Here are the steps that we follow.

LAMS v2 – provides a modular architecture for building different kinds of people-based worklfow systems. Separation of workflow core engine from workflow object definitions.

Starting up RAMS – Research Activity Management System. A new suite of activity tools appropriate for research based activities. Currently vaporware.

Brian McGough, UITS – Kuali Enterprise workflow (KEW)

Started out as OneStart Workflow. Worked with Cornell and changed name to Kuali Enterprise Workflow.

They have a Java API and a Web Services API. Java is most used client. There is an Edoc Lite (for non-programmers) – easy to use, XML document definition, for form based workflow.

KEW is a general-purpose electronic routing infrastructure (workflow engine) designed to facility the automation of mediated business processes.

Routing is based on E-Docs.

In order to make workflow decisions based on payload content (content based routing), you need to map the content within your payload in a semantically neutral way.

Rules – application routing data stored in workflow. Prevents client application from writing screens and logic to maintain their routing data. Routing data for multiple apps housing in a single location, can be managed from a single place. Rule functions driven by java/xml components.

KEW 3.0 is moving towards industry standards: BPEL and ESB.