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Managing Rule Project Versions in WODM

WebSphere Operational Decision Management  introduces a native branching capability in the Decision Center (ex-RTS) that provides intuitive solutions to the various project versioning requirements.

Project branching in Decision Center

Branches are an integral part of working with the Decision Center. Before starting any work, you need to select the target rule project as well as the branch you want to use in that rule project. Below Figure shows the home page of the Decision Center where you make this selection.

Decision Center home page

By default, a rule project exists with a single branch, the “main” branch. At any time, you can create a sub-branch from the “branch in use” by selecting the Create subbranch action in the Current action menu, as shown in Figure

Create a subbranch

When you need to join concurrent project branches, the Merge Branches action provides a business user friendly way to perform the merging operation. After designating the branch to perform the merge with, Decision Center displays the set of differences to merge and proposes possible actions to be performed (replace in one branch or in the other, or do nothing), as shown in Figure . You can choose the desired direction for the merge in order to limit the set of differences that get displayed.

Merge branches actions

A detailed view of the differences, as shown in Figure is provided for each artifact to help with the merge task, and to allow fine grain difference management.

 Detail of merge differences

This is about the extent of the operations on branch management in Decision Center. By deliberately limiting the set of operations, branch management is kept as non-technical as possible, so that it can be easily used and understood by business users.

The concept of baselines is still present in Decision Center, but baselines are now read-only snapshots of the project state (a baseline cannot be unfrozen anymore). The role of baselines is to represent:

A designated restore point for development baselines, similar to a tagged version for an SCCS.A reliable deployment state that can be used for clean promotion through the different rule environments, from testing to production.

Managing bug fixes

The branching capability of Decision Center makes bug fixes straightforward. Assume that the promotion of a new ruleset version was initiated from the main branch by creating a deployment baseline named loanvalidation-1.0.0.

If a defect is found in the rules while going through QA, the rule authors can simply clone the deployment baseline to a branch as shown in Figure, and start using this branch to fix the defect.

Figure Deployment baseline section from the Manage Subbranches and Baselines page

Once the fix is completed, you need to define a new RuleApp in order to deploy from the new branch instead of main. The definition of rulesets in Decision Management  includes the specification of the project version from which the ruleset should be extracted. As shown below, the version can be either a baseline (such asloanvalidation-1.0.0) or a branch (such as loanvalidation-1.0-bugfix). For our example, we’ll select the latter.

Figure Select the project version

You can make additional fix iterations on the bug fix branch until the version is ready to be released in the production environment. At this point, the last task to complete is to merge the changes from the bug fix branch to the main branch. You can do this with the Merge Branches action, previously shown on . In this case, we’ll select the Only to ‘main’ Branch option for the direction.

 Below Figure  illustrates these three steps.

Managing bug fixes process

Managing concurrent rule service enhancements

Concurrent enhancements to a rule service are also made straightforward through project branches. When a change to the business policy is submitted, you can create a branch to implement and unit-test the change request. When you’re ready to deploy the change, you can merge the updated project elements back to the main branch, and a deployment baseline is created as a result of deploying the updated RuleApp.

Figure Concurrent rule service enhancement process

The concept of rule project security as proposed in RTS is now managed at the branch level. In large projects that include business policies coming from multiple LOBs or business groups, this allows for enforcement of fine-grain security by dedicating branches to certain groups (for example, pricing andeligibility in Figure

Below Figure  shows the new branch security options in Decision Center.

Branch security options in Decision Center

Managing rule project refactoring

Rule project refactoring, involving changes to the BOM for example, remains a task that is shared between Rule Designer (formerly Rule Studio) and the Decision Center

The merge operation in Decision Center does not include the BOM or the ruleset parameters. Updates to these artifacts on a given branch must therefore come from a synchronization operation with Rule Designer.

The refactoring process is accomplished as follows:

Create a branch to be the temporary production branch, to support ongoing maintenance.In Rule Designer, create a rule project from the Decision Center project’s main branch.Perform the rule project refactoring. Meanwhile, all project maintenance work will be handled through the temporary production branch. There should be no activity on the main branch until refactoring is completed.When the refactoring is complete, synchronize the Rule Designer project with the Decision Center project’s main branch, overriding the content of the main branch.Merge the temporary production branch back to the main branch.

The main benefit in this scenario is that the merging operation is using the rule specific diff instead of the generic textual diff based on the BRL format

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Cloud & On-Premise Integration for Salesforce

SFDC_CloudThere are many benefits to cloud-based applications versus on-premise, including simplified and fast implementations, flexible application access to align with an agile business, scalable solutions without additional hardware requirements, and lower IT costs and resources.  In the case of Salesforce, a leading sales automation and CRM provider, companies are able to quickly access critical sales and marketing tools from any location. Since the solution is cloud-based, implementation times are dramatically decreased.

However, to extract the greatest benefit, those cloud applications must be integrated with existing systems – both on-premise and additional cloud solutions.  This integration provides access to applications and data sources typically unavailable to cloud applications, allowing for harmonized business processes, complete data sets, increased productivity and ultimately enhanced business value.

There are numerous use cases for integrating Salesforce with existing applications either in-house or in the cloud.

SFDC_UseCases

By integrating Salesforce with ERP and Accounts Receivable systems, your organization can synchronize account information across applications. This integrated solution automates many of the order fulfillment tasks that are launched when a deal closes, including resource allocation, invoicing and payment processing.

By integrating Inventory Management and Accounts Receivable software with Salesforce, product information, specifications and pricing are accurately depicted across the Salesforce portal and invoice line items that are initiated through Salesforce.

Your customers can access up-to-date and accurate information on their account balance or order status, by integrating Salesforce with Accounts Receivable software and external-facing customer portals. Read the rest of this post »

New IBM platform gives businesses a better view of the cloud

Open-source cloud computingThanks to IBM’s creation of a code storehouse to encourage collaboration, Big Blue has provided a big boost to open-source development in the cloud.

The company’s new DeveloperWorks Open platform opens a door to open-sourcers who have wanted better access to IBM’s expertise and techniques in cloud and mobile technologies. The platform launched with about 50 projects – among them, apps that span the banking and insurance, healthcare, and retail industries, as well as cloud data analytics technologies such as Agentless System Crawler.

DeveloperWorks Open also contains instructional materials on the technologies via how-to videos and blogs created to help developers surmount any rough spots.

IBM has a history of working with the open-source community, having contributed at various times to projects such as OpenStack, Linux, and Spark. But IBM Vice President of Cloud Technology and Architecture Angel Diaz said in a statement on the DeveloperWorks Open site that this latest initiative pumps fresh energy into IBM’s cloud-based efforts.

“IBM firmly believes that open source is the foundation of innovative application development in the cloud,” Diaz said. “With DeveloperWorks Open, we are open-sourcing additional IBM innovations that we feel have the potential to grow the community and ecosystem and eventually become established technologies.”

IBM also has extended access to its Bluemix cloud software development platform to about 200 academic institutions worldwide. The Academic Initiative for Cloud lets students and faculty at these institutions build applications without charge and is intended to give up-and-coming developers familiarity with IBM’s cloud services.

B2B Commerce in 2015

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Prior to the digital age, manufacturers and suppliers produced thick, printed catalogs, employed armies of sales and account managers to build relationships and close deals, and staffed warehouses to deliver on their customers’ needs. Today’s B2B commerce transactions typically involve multiple organizations and cover a complex range of applications that enable organizations to form both offline and online relationships with suppliers, customers, distributors, resellers and other partners.

Many B2B organizations have established an online channel and are focusing on how to grow online sales in order to maximize revenue.  A study conducted by Frost & Sullivan projects that B2B eCommerce sales will reach $12 million globally by the year 2020. to succeed in the new B2B landscape, companies are going to have to shift the way they think about the end customer and their buying experience. The four trends below are driving B2B companies to re-platform and rebuild their eCommerce sites to satisfy the growing demands and high expectations of their customer.

Buyer Self-Service

  • The B2B “connected buyer” is looking for empowered experiences to deliver efficiency and convenience. Today’s self-serve eCommerce sites do more than replicate their sales reps, often providing functions that humans simply cannot do.

Third-Party Procurement Providers to Insourced B2B Platform

  • By bringing these platforms in-house, B2B organizations achieve greater differentiation and flexibility and reduce outside costs with affordable enabling technology.

Optimizing the B2B Experience to Match B2C Expectations

  • Today’s buyers are transitioning their product search and purchases from traditional, offline channels to digital (i.e. web and mobile) settings and companies that do not adapt their technology to their buyer’s needs will fall behind.

B2B Omni-channel

  • Omni-channel strategies are helping B2B suppliers make it easy to conduct business – reducing internal costs, optimizing operational efficiency, and enabling sales teams to provide more value where it counts, manage relationships, and grow the business.

In our recent guide, Top Trends in B2B Commerce, our experts discuss the challenges and solutions that we provide surrounding these trends in 2015.

Click here to download the guide!

IBM Watson Analytics: The Time is Now

WAScreenshot1In mid-May, at the IBM Vision Conference, IBM announced a deal for a free year of licenses of IBM Watson Analytics for existing Cognos BI and TM1 customers. If you missed that offer, IBM has recently introduced another offer for free licenses:

  • Watson Analytics Professional Edition
  • Up to 60 users
  • 6 months of use
  • Offer available through 10/31/2015

Professional:  http://www.ibm.com/web/portal/analytics/analyticszone/wagoproforfree

If you are an existing Cognos customer, now is the time to start learning Watson Analytics.

Perficient has been working with Watson Analytics since it was first released in beta form near the end of 2014.  Since our team has worked with Cognos for 15 years, and more recently SPSS and Predictive Analytics, we feel that we’re well positioned to help customers capitalize on this new technology.

Throughout the year, we have expanded our use of the Watson Analytics solution and have recently started engaging with customers to explore Watson Analytics at their organizations.  Most recently we are partnering with a Healthcare provider to create Watson Analytics dashboards to analyze Medicare claim data and enhance patient readmission models previously built on SPSS. Read the rest of this post »

Wimbledon: A data competition off the court

Wimbledon 2015

Professional tennis amounts to more than serves and volleys these days. At the just-concluded Wimbledon championships, each match relied almost as much on gigabits and terabytes.

Not far from the immaculate grass courts, dozens of tennis-savvy data gatherers scrutinized every point, every swing of the racquet, to give TV and online watchers precise, instantaneous analysis of the action. Those data gatherers came courtesy of IBM, Wimbledon’s official IT provider since 1990. According to a recent article in Techworld the competition to make IBM’s data team reached an intensity matching Wimbledon itself.

The data team consisted of more than 60 tech types with professional tennis aspirations of their own. They hunkered down in a pair of data labs wired to the tournament’s broadcast studios. These junior-pro-level players and scholarship athletes entered raw data on each play throughout the two-week tournament. Their cumulative effort was poured into the visual graphics and analysis appearing on video screens sometimes moments after each point.

But the race to enter and judge data during the matches was perhaps the easiest part. Before the tournament, prospective team members had to demonstrate their skills through a rigorous online test and prove their tennis qualifications through extensive documentation.

“If we think they’ve got the right mental aptitude and personality, as well as the tennis skill, we will bring them onsite for a training session,” IBM client executive Sam Seddon told Techworld.

That day-long training session is run by one of the tournament’s assistant referees.

“If they pass that day, then we’ll invite them back for a second day were they have another full day of just four people in a room,” Seddon said. “If they pass that, then we’ll consider them for the team.”

Once aboard, the competition continues, and escalates. IBM’s total team was whittled down throughout the tournament until only the top performers remained for the final matches. After everyone’s fingers stopped flying and the tournament trophies were handed out, the amount of data entered will be measured in six figures. Techworld said last year’s Wimbledon exceeded 3 million data points, and the 2015 tournament’s cumulative compilation is predicted to go well beyond that total.

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IBM Cognos TM1 + Atlassian JIRA = Client Success

IBM Cognos TM1 is well-known as an enterprise planning software platform that can transform your entire planning cycle, from target setting and budgeting to reporting, scorecarding, analysis and forecasting [1], and Perficient is well-known for delivering expertly designed TM1-based solutions. At Perficient, we are excited about solving our customers’ business needs. Every Cognos TM1 implementation begins with the question: what problem does our customer need our help to solve? Here at Perficient, we strive to make sure we truly understand customer needs and future needs to help them succeed within their business.

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Extend your Salesforce Investment with Cloud Integration

According to recent studies by Forrester Research and Gartner, application integration along with security, are the main reasons why IT executives resist cloud-based applications. However, fueled by today’s fiercely competitive business environment, IT managers must deliver rapid, innovative and low-cost solutions to stay ahead of the competition. Companies need a solution that can run anywhere, connect applications anywhere, be managed from anywhere, and require no specialist integration skills or IT infrastructure. These solutions must be easily configurable, flexible, ansalesforce cast iron webinar high resd scalable—which means no coding.

With Salesforce solutions spreading rapidly across the business world and moving more of your business functions to Salesforce, you’ll quickly realize the need to maintain your core back-office systems and expose parts of them to your sales and service groups. In addition, there are probably other cloud applications that you have recently empowered your employees and customers with.   Application integration has become the critical component to cloud computing and must be dramatically simplified to realize the full benefits of cloud-based applications. The importance of a solid, stable, and robust integration strategy is key in moving your business forward.

Join us on July 22nd, and meet your answer to cloud integration and data exchange. WebSphere Cast Iron integration has been proven, recommended, and sought after for providing the mechanism to engage almost any existing on premise system to Salesforce with ease. The “no code” approach to building integrations allows for rapid implementation times, often in days, not months.

During this webinar we will share successful use cases and our experts will cover an in-depth look at this solution including ways to:

  • Connect cloud and on-premise applications quickly and easily with Salesforce
  • Compare traditional approaches to integration and the benefits of employing Cast Iron Integration
  • Empower IT with an off-the-shelf approach to integration, reviving your existing back-office systems with a conduit to the cloud

 

IBM and Box announcement – unwrapping what it means

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Last week IBM and Box announced a partnership that benefits a wide variety of customers. The IBM press release, found here, IBM and Box Press release detailed three areas that the companies will work together:

IBM and Box will partner in three key areas:

Transformation of Enterprise Work

  • Content Management: Box will integrate IBM industry-leading enterprise content management including content capture, extraction, analytics, case management and governance.
  • Watson Analytics: IBM and Box will collaborate to bring in-depth enterprise insights using IBM Watson Analytics to content stored in Box.
  • Social Collaboration Solutions: IBM and Box will collaborate to integrate Box capabilities into IBM Verse and IBM Connections, the company’s business email solution and social collaboration platform.

International Reach and Security

  • Enterprise Cloud: Box will enable joint customers to store their content on the IBM Cloud. The IBM Cloud provides data resiliency, data privacy and data localization, a key consideration for international customers who want the option to keep their data in country.
  • Specialized Enterprise Consulting: The partnership will draw upon the specialized Enterprise Content Management skills of IBM Global Business Services professionals to help clients connect or integrate Box capabilities with existing data and systems.
  • Enterprise Security: Box will expand on its enterprise security offerings with IBM security technologies for threat detection, anomaly identification, mobile device management and identity protection.

New Content Rich Apps and Solutions

  • Mobile Apps for Industries:  Box and IBM will jointly develop content management solutions and incorporate Box technology into select IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps.
  • Custom App Development: IBM will enable enterprise developers to integrate Box APIs on the IBM Bluemix developer cloud to help build content rich web and mobile apps.

 

Overall this announcement makes good sense. There are customers who need to know physically were their data is stored, either for corporate or regulatory reasons, and now they can use Box without Box investing in dedicated data centers. This announcement will support additional mobile development, which is positive for both companies. Having IBM bring Box into customers I think is a win for both. Giving Watson more content to analyze and learn from is great for customers and IBM. Adding the Box APIs into BlueMix gives that platform more value, which is great to see. IBM Verse has some great concepts and linking to Box should make provide additional value to customers.

The collaboration portion is where I see some potential overlap. IBM’s social platform and IBM in general is about integration. IBM of course would like you the customer to find value in multiple IBM products but understands that a mono-culture is not likely. In one way IBM is simply providing customers additional choice; you want to provide Connections files, Connections Content Manger (ECM) and Box to your organization because you have different business drivers and user groups, now you will be able to do that. On the other hand, IBM is selling a file sharing solutions, “IBM Connections Files on Cloud” which is beginning to gain traction in customers. Executives think about the gestalt of a partnership but out in the field is where it happens. Customers need to see the two organizations working together to solve their needs. As long as the customers hear a crisp, clear message, I think this will be a good partnership.

Webinar Recap: Align Data & Analytics for Digital Transformation

Exponential growth of data is a common trend across all industries, along with the need for insights from that data. We’re seeing a large portion of data growth and complexity from the prevalence of devices, mobile, Internet of Things and cloud. Data management and analysis is no longer a competitive advantage, it’s a business necessity to driving innovation.

DTNeetuQuote

On a recent Digital Transformation webinar, Perficient polled attendees on the adoption and maturity of Big Data initiatives at their organizations.

  1. Do you have a plan to address the data integration challenges that are related to new customer data types, the Internet of Things, and social data?
  2. Has your company seen the expected value from its Big Data investment?

DTGraphs

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