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IBM further integrates modeling

Updated tool supports spec for business process automation and improves integration with IBM's development tools and server software.

IBM this week will update its program for modeling business processes, an important addition to its line of integration software.

WebSphere Business Integration Modeler is a tool aimed at business analysts who use it to design the different steps of the business process, such as handling an insurance claim or a financial transaction. Version 5 of the modeling tool adds support for an IBM-backed specification for business process automation and improves integration with IBM's development tools and server software.

IBM's modeling program is based on software it gained through its acquisition of Holosofx in 2002.

With Business Integration Modeler, an analyst creates a flow chart of how a business process should operate, including the forms that need to be handled by people and the data that is required to complete the process. With version 5, the tool now generates code that complies with the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), a specification designed specifically for processing multistep workflows.

Typically, a software programmer needs to make changes to the generated code for technical tasks, such as getting information from a database or packaged application. Version 5 allows developers to import the models into IBM's Rational XDE modeling tools for further modification. The new version can also import models created in Microsoft's Visio diagramming application and generate simulations for how an application will perform.

The finished application can run on IBM's WebSphere Business Integration server or other BPEL-compliant application servers.

Business process modeling tools are becoming more important, because IBM customers are looking for ways to streamline business processes and increase efficiency, said Debbie Moynihan, program manager for WebSphere Business Integration at IBM. The tool also helps business analysts better communicate new application requirements with software developers, she said.

In the business process management field, IBM competes with other infrastructure software vendors, such as Oracle, BEA Systems and Microsoft, which offer both modeling tools and the software needed to run finished applications. There are also a number of companies that specialize in business process management or focus specifically on process modeling.

IBM is using WebSphere Business Integration Modeler internally to automate some of its internal operations, such as its telesales and supply chain applications, the company said.

Version 5 costs $1,250 and will be available Thursday.