Business Rules Forum 2008: Agile, Optimization

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So here we are at BRForum08, which kicked off with some tutorials. We missed Sunday’s worthy sessions, including Ron Ross’ overview, Neil Raden and James Taylor’s perspective on Decision Management, and Michael Krouze on the value of BREs in SOAs. On Monday there were:

  • Gladys Lam on rule discovery (or “harvesting”) –  would be interesting to see how increased in awareness of semantics and automated techniques for rule discovery were impacting the rule analysts’ business, if at all.
  • Roger Burlton on Process Architecture – which shows how the Enterprise Architect area is beginning to converge with BPM and Business Rules.
  • Scott Ambler on Agile Model Driven Development. This was a well-attended session, and Scott is a great evangelist for “agile”. Unfortunately he did not seem to have tailored his message much for a business rule audience, as he was still talking about “programmers and coders” (of which there was exactly 1 in the room). Nothing about how the business rules approach aligns to “agile” in what ways, agile issues in rule projects, etc [*1]. Nor much on how modern tools like TIBCO BusinessEvents provide the model-driven approach out-of-the-box (e.g. as “executable specifications”) – indeed Scott commented more on the perils of round-tripping (whereas in fact you NEVER hack the output code from a rule engine like BusinessEvents – you extend it in the model if you want it to do something different – that’s why its called “model driven engineering”). Agile should be one of the great strengths of CEP technologies: model-driven, business facts defined from business events, rapid execution, built-in persistence, etc. I’m surprised no CEP vendor has contacted Scott to do a White Paper on this… .
  • John Rymer talked about analyst Forrester’s framework for selection a Business Rule platform. This looked the same as last year’s tutorial, and similarly made no mention of CEP tools like TIBCO’s rule engine. Even though TIBCO BusinessEvents is probably #3 in the market in terms of BRE sales. Go figure.
  • Dr John Elder presented on Data Mining mistakes. Shame I missed this as it looked quite interesting, although of course “event mining” is more interesting 🙂 .
  • Another Dr, this time Dr David Simchi-Levi, presented on optimization technology. I missed this too – it had “sold out”. I noticed though some mention of real-time optimization techniques involving business rules – typically this would be a form of CEP, with one abstract event being “time to reoptimize!”. A great quote, and reason for the increase in awareness in Linear Programing and other techniques, was the net increase in algorithm and hardware performance leading to a 5.3M x improvement in optimization performance from 1988 to 2004. Which is why such techniques are also relevant to real-time CEP.


[1] Scott is into audience participation. One of his questions was: what process do you use to build an e-commerce web page with interdependent fields (e.g. zip code and state). The answer is (of course!) to model / design via a rule-driven Form. But that wasn’t one of the options discussed…