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MWD Advisors: Process Application Platforms 2017 Bonitasoft

21 Mar 2017 - Mickey Farrance

"Bonitasoft has undergone two important shifts in focus recently. Firstly, the introduction of a Business Data Model capability and a sophisticated UI Designer have supported its shift beyond BPM to offering a broad process application development platform. Secondly, Bonitasoft has clarified its position as a ‘low-code’ platform provider: rather than embracing ‘citizen developers’ wanting to build simple things quickly, it’s pursuing more complicated use cases being addressed by collaborating multi-disciplinary design and development teams with ‘classic’ development skills.

One of the biggest strengths of Bonita BPM is the extent to which teams can customise and change application behaviour layer-by-layer: the use of ‘contracts’ and REST APIs as core architectural elements ensures a clean separation between user interface, core logic and data management/integration logic."

 

Support for different types of work

Automated work:
Bonita BPM does a decent job in helping you build and run process applications that work ‘straight-through’; you can design flows that operate asynchronously and reactively in response to external events, and if you license the Performance Edition there’s clustering functionality for the BPM Engine.

 

Transactional work:
Bonita BPM’s primary focus is on supporting transactional work scenarios, and it covers all the core functionality bases well. A solid organisation model for your process applications and support for many important workflow patterns is a big help, and UI flexibility is a significant contributor. Support for monitoring and optimisation isn’t so strong, although Bonitasoft plans improvements in coming releases.

 

Exploratory work:
Bonitasoft doesn’t explicitly address exploratory work scenarios and doesn’t offer a targeted case management capability, but some of the underlying platform capabilities needed to support the common features of exploratory work scenario requirements are present nevertheless.

 

Rapid prototyping / quick-start

Although Bonita BPM has a Business Data Modelling capability, Bonitasoft hasn’t elected to do what some other vendors have done and create a specialised ‘data-centric application’ development capability that enables teams to rapidly prototype or deliver simple forms-and-data applications quickly.

 

Change management

Bonita BPM’s ‘living applications’ capability gives you a lot of flexibility, and if you choose one of the paid-for Subscription Editions of Bonita BPM there’s some support for team working, code locking and versioning. However more advanced change management capabilities found in more expensive platforms (visual impact analysis, configuration management, process migration, and so on) are missing.

 

User experience options

UX flexibility is one of Bonita BPM’s strongest points. There’s a simple out-of-the-box process application UI, but the ability to create sophisticated custom application user experiences stands out. An extensive set of REST APIs means going further (and potentially even creating your own domain-specific tools) is also an option.

 

Deployment options

Bonita BPM is available as an on-premise licensed product, and is also supported as a hosted platform – though Bonitasoft does not offer Bonita BPM as a managed hosted service itself. If you want to use a cloud platform, Bonitasoft supports deployment on AWS (public cloud) and CloudFoundry (private cloud).

 

Inside Bonitasoft’s platform

Bonitasoft’s Process Application Platform offering revolves around Bonita BPM, which (depending on the edition you choose to license) provides a range of design-time and runtime capabilities for creating and deploying process applications flexibly, particularly where user experience customisation is important. Bonitasoft doesn’t currently offer Bonita BPM as a cloud-based service, but Bonitasoft does support customers who choose to deploy and manage it themselves on the AWS cloud platform.

 

Key tools and capabilities

The main elements of Bonita BPM are as follows:

BPM Studio.
This is an Eclipse-based (desktop-resident) toolset used for defining all the key aspects of your process applications (processes, data, rules, organisation models, integration points and application user interfaces).
 

BPM Engine.
This is the runtime platform for Bonita BPM process applications.

 

BPM Portal.
This is a web application that serves both as an administration interface for your Bonita BPM process applications (and as a host for performance reports); and as a container for simple process application user interfaces (for example, hosting standardised user task lists and forms) if you choose not to develop your own custom application front-ends.

Read the full report here.

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