With the ratification of the Web Services Distributed Management standard last week—and of a critical component in that standard called Common Base Events—IBM is working to align and integrate CBE concepts into its business process management capabilities.
The goal, said IBM officials, is to provide more insight into issues occurring in business processes as they are executed and to eventually correlate process events.
Initially developed by IBMs autonomics group and Cisco Systems Inc. and submitted to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, CBE provides a common way of representing log information from different systems to make it easier to locate and isolate a business process problem.
"Customers had a problem of common determination and isolation where a major issue is that different pieces of software wrote to logs in different forms. Some information was very brief, and also the style was very inconsistent," said Kevin McAuliffe, IBMs director of application integration software and strategy, and chief technology officer of Business Performance Management. "The idea with CBE is to get a common way of representing log information."
IBMs engagement with CBE coincides with work under way in the companys Software Group and dubbed the Common Event Infrastructure initiative. The initiative involves the development of a common componentry to enable the reuse of some functionality in applications.
The Common Event Infrastructure includes an event catalog that contains metadata for describing events and an event store that lets users extract those events and perform correlations. At the same time, the infrastructure will also be able to use events as defined by the rules in CBE.
McAuliffes BPM group is working to identify common components relative to business performance and to evolve the next generation of CBE.
"The next level [of CBE] is not just for logging but also for the generation of events for IT and business-level monitoring," said McAuliffe, in Armonk, N.Y. "Were now looking at extending, where necessary, the definition of the base event types."
Given that event types are now part of ratified standards, McAuliffe is treading lightly—and with OASIS input—in determining additional events so as not to diminish the standard itself.
At the same time, with the second iteration of CBE expected next year, IBM is looking to include a way to represent integration and user interaction events to determine event errors and be able to correlate that information to systems.
"What we see is a lot of different elements within integration that will be emitting events—process services—with the execution of BPEL [Business Process Execution Language] services," said McAuliffe. "[Systems] will emit an event at the process start, and we would like that to be in a CBE form. You will [be able to] take those two events and correlate, and you get the execution times for that process. There is additional payload in there."
That correlation capability could help a system determine how it should respond to certain levels of customers, for example—standard, gold, platinum—based on the performance of processes.
Events likewise could come out of user interactions, individual applications and, eventually, partner services, said McAuliffe—all captured at the infrastructure level.
"One could imagine an application vendor [using CBE], like Siebel [Systems Inc.] providing levels of visibility into the execution of a CRM [customer relationship management] application," said McAuliffe, who said he believes that extending CBEs use into IBMs monitoring capabilities will increase adoption by the ISV community, which is key to accelerating widespread use and adoption.