When you book a flight and get the best deal, chances are, the deal was powered by Red Hat. Not 100% of the time, but close.
Businesses have started using emerging technologies like business decision managers (BDM) to automate and improve their business processes. Let’s consider the example of a travel agency. When you buy a ticket, based on your destination and package, some promotions or discounts are applied to that ticket. These promotions and discounts are dictated by a set of rules that were set by that company. Selling a ticket from DC to New York is simple, but when you add in various options, things can become complicated and rules stack on top of each other.
“Think of the logic that a reservation system goes through in order to figure out how much to charge for an air ticket,” said Phil Simpson, JBoss Product Marketing Manager at Red Hat. “There’s just hundreds of rules that typically apply a to a ticket. They need to be applied in a consistent way.”
Things become even more complicated when that company operates in a heavily regulated industry which has to comply with many regulations. That’s why organizations need Business Decision Management solutions. Customers want to automate operational decisions that replace manual decisions with automated decisions.
Red Hat, the undisputed king of Linux and rising prince of cloud, offers Red Hat Business Decision Manager. A new version of the product was released recently that comes with some new features.
“A lot of Red Hat customers are using it to automate pricing decisions. It helps them to come up with automated quotes, especially when products have complex relationships with interrelated products. There are rules that govern how we apply discounts and how combine products together,” said Phil Simpson, JBoss Product Marketing Manager at Red Hat.
What’s RH Decision Manager?
The decision manager is a development tool and a runtime environment for creating applications that make these types of decisions. You can think of the source code for these applications to be the rule since it uses constructs, a set of rules that describe how to make a specific decision. Basically that’s all you need. Then an application can be created to automate that decision.
Obviously, these business decisions are made by business people and not developers. The target audience of Red Hat BDM are not necessarily lead developers or programmers. It offers a business friendly interface so business people can use; though there are a number of different ways of expressing those rules.
One of the most popular ways is using a decision table, which is basically a spreadsheet where rules are listed (which are constructed by business people) in a spreadsheet format. It is very easy to figure out how the rules work and then automate them.
To further simplify the interface, with the latest release of BDM, Red Hat has introduced DMN (decision modeling notation). It’s a fairly new standard for graphical representation of a business decision, which is supported by OMG, the object management group.
According to Simpson, Red Hat is enjoying a great deal of traction with DMN, especially from the financial services industry. “It brings the value into the business as they have not seen before,” he said. “Business rules systems have been around for quite a long time but they’ve not made a lot of inroads into this kind of business space with these business users because it is still tricky,” said Simpson. DMN simplifies things for these businesses.
Even if RH BDM services the business professional, it targets two types of users – high level business users and developers. The decision tables are the primary interface for business users. Red Hat also has what we call Guided Template Editor, which is just another way of representing rules. It can be customized to any industry by non developers. Developers can access the rule system to fine tune a set of rules to make sure that they are expressed in the most efficient way possible.
Like every other Red Hat product, BDM is based on the fully open source Drools project, along with a rule engine and rule editing environment that’s written in Java. Red Hat BDM can run on any kind of infrastructure, whether it be a datacenter or cloud.
Any heavily regulated industry has be compliant with the rules. Having a rules engine to automate all those decisions is very important to be able to show compliance. The typical customer base of BDM falls into four or five major verticals. The largest vertical is financial services, whether it be insurance, banking, retail, wholesale banking, capital markets and so on. Healthcare is another space that’s a very appropriate for rules-based technology because of the regulations dictating the industry. Red Hat also serves a lot of customers in public sector, especially with federal government agencies as things are heavily regulated.
Red Hat Business Decision Manager is not the only product in the company’s business automation portfolio . The second product is a business process management product, which incorporates everything that’s in BDM, but it also hands end-to-end business processes management.
Red Hat BDM gets an update annually to keep it easier for customers to stay updated with the latest technologies. Anything for frequent than that would be an overhead cost, anything less than that would mean slower access to newer technologies. Since Red Hat engineers work hard to ensure backward compatibility, upgrading from one release to the next major release is a non-issue.
And if something goes wrong, which it usually doesn’t, there is standard support from Red Hat which keeps customers covered 24×7.
Looking at all these features, choosing Red Hat Business Decision Manager is not a hard choice to make.