This article is created jointly by Brian Petrini and Andy Ritchie
Business Operations Connect is a new capability for IBM Business Process Manager (BPM) and IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM) to provide a new approach for Developers to consume enterprise business processes and decisions in their solutions via the API Economy. It also enables Process and Decision Developers to consume services hosted on other systems via the API Economy also.
Enterprises have a wide array of valuable services which can be re-used when implementing new business solutions like processes services, decisions services, and internal and external information services.
However it can be very difficult and time consuming for new business solution developers to find these API’s and services, manage a wide array of service formats like XML, XSLT and SOAP, manage and control security access, manage the lifecycle of the service interfaces and finally have consistent tooling for providers and consumers to use.
A new approach is needed built around APIâ€™s to address all these challenges to reduce the development time and time to market of new solutions, provide a secure self service access to the assets and make it easy for developers to share new APIâ€™s as well as consume them in a consistent way.
IBM has just announced in March 2016 a new set of products built around a new and enhanced API management product called API Connect V5 which combines major enhancements to manage, test and run APIâ€™s from IBM Strongloop. This capability is also being included in App Connect and there are new Connect Capabilities in WebSphere Connect, Z Connect and IBM Integration Suite.
This same API capability will support making enterprise processes like Account opening, Order Processing, Claim processing and decisions like Pricing, Eligibility, Compliance available to new solution Developers using IBM BPM and ODM ODM using their respective Process Connect and Decision Connect capabilities. This not only enables new solution prototypes to be developed faster will less code, but should also enable greater solution re-use, less effort and reduced time to market to transition this to use production enterprise processes and decisions.
If we take an example of a Travel Booking firm wanting to provide enhanced solution to its clients. It needs to consume APIâ€™s from multiple hotel, flight, car rental providers. It also has to link this with its own booking process and pricing decisions which factor in both simple and more complex bookings, discounts, flight taxes, and promotions.
Traditionally the Booking Process and Pricing decisions could be exposed via web services or REST based services. However this does not make it any easier for the Application Developer to find, consume, view the interfaces, or the Application owner to define what level of service is required.
The new Business Operations Connect capabilities with IBM Operational Decision Manager and IBM Business Process Manager will use capability from IBM API Connect Essentials â€“ an offering for developers and businesses to provide the essential functionality to create, run, manage, and enforce the consumption of APIs and Microservices.
Businesses can additionally purchase
- API Connect Professional for departmental use and single projects functionality to begin their business transformation and innovation journey through APIs and Microservices.
- API Connect Enterprise for enterprises and includes comprehensive set of enterprise-grade capabilities and clustering to create, run, manage, and enforce consumption of APIs and Microservices
New Capabilities provided
The new API Connect capability when packaged with IBM BPM and IBM ODM provides the following enhancements
1. Where a business solution needs to re-use existing processes and decisions a Process or Decision developer can iteratively design APIs by using the enhanced API assembly capability and utilize the new, built-in policies with the new API Connect toolkit.
- Use a toolkit rapidly and iteratively to design and develop APIs by using Swagger 2.0
- Create APIs from existing Processes or Decisions designed in BPM Process Designer or ODM Rule Designer with REST/JSON or REST/XML interfaces
- Add examples of how to use the API.
- Deploy the new APIâ€™s to the API Connect Server Catalog to enable visibility for Application Developers
- By logging onto the Server optionally define an API plan which defines its visibility and whether its Public API, restricted to certain users, whether there is a API consumption rate limit and how its enforced
2. An Application developer can use an enhanced API Connect developer portal to find content available to them and collaborate with the community.
- Use consistent User interface with API Providers to list and find APIâ€™s defined in the API plans as visible to them
- View Swagger 2.0 API definitions for the API created by the Process or decision developer
- View code examples provided by the API developer
- Test the API using the tools, before integrating into the new solution
3. An IT administrator can automate API deployments across environments for API Connect whether On Premise or on IBM Cloud.
- Automate deployment of APIs across environments and lifecycle stages.
- Enable enhanced auditing of security administration tasks.
4. Where a Process Developer or Decision Developer want to consume APIâ€™s running on premise or on IBM Cloud they can
- Logon to the Developer Portal of API Connect using their credentials and view the set of APIâ€™s which have been provisioned for their specific use.
- View the Profiles and swagger definitions of the APIâ€™s
- View code examples provided by the API developer
- Test the API using the tools before integrating into the Process flow of decision
There are many advantages for adopting this new approach to using APIâ€™s and API Management using IBM API connect capability to manage the visibility, format, testing, deployment and plan SLAâ€™s and enforce these which simple manual API or service discovery and invocation lacks.
By Providing consistent easy to use tools for both API providers and consumers it makes it far more productive to provide improved Hybrid cloud solutions with IBM BPM and IBM ODM hosted on Premise and in Cloud to create Innovative new solutions which
- Enable Cloud native solutions to use existing enterprise processes and decisions quickly and easily
- Enable enterprise processes and decisions to enhance and transform their capabilities invoking new Analytic and Cognitive services in the IBM Cloud to improve Cognitive Business Operations