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Editor's note: Join leading industry experts to debate how SOA and BPM can support and be supported by cloud initiatives. Learn more here!

Do you think that the cloud computing is just software as a service (SaaS), or subscription-based OnDemand, or application service provision (ASP), or service bureau computing, or time-sharing? If you do, it's probably because you started to buy or implement enterprise software in another decade when those terms were popular. But taking a blank-piece-of-paper approach in analyzing business process management (BPM) in the cloud indicates that there is a difference. Such an analysis should look at BPM/cloud-related architecture, technology, functionality and features. Can the combination of one and one, BPM and the cloud, equal more than two?

The cloud architecture

One interesting thing about a "BPM in the Cloud" architectural analysis is that the basic design of the BPM-enabling software (or any other type of software in the cloud) could make a difference. Presumably software is more functional if it is designed or re-designed to run in the cloud as opposed to simply taking advantage of the cloud's characteristics.

Matt Green, VP of process application at Software Ag, makes that argument. He believes that recent changes in the Internet, as technology moves from simply supporting basic collaborative web sites to supporting social computing, means BPM in the cloud can improve on BPM without the cloud. The cloud lets BPM analysts and developers more easily collaborate on process discovery (gathering artefacts, find out who does specific work, identify who the process expert is, etc.). Green's idea is to "use the cloud to replace the whiteboard in the way Facebook works."

Dr. M.A. Ketabchi, CEO of Savvion, says BPM can benefit from the cloud at runtime as well. BPM is all about change and the cloud is all about change. Because of the ease of defining and deploying at runtime on a cloud, BPM and cloud computing are much more relevant together than, for example, ERP in the cloud. Dr. Ketabchi uses an example of a customer needing to rapidly add 250 customer agents (to handle some seasonality need such as at tax time or during holidays). The user does "not have to worry about new servers, clusters, service level agreements (SLA), or even the BPM functionality itself," according to the Savvion founder.


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