Vanilla 4.4 – BiWorkflow Update

Dear Readers,

As told in introduction of this serie of posts for Vanilla 4.4, we have removed the Bonita engine from our Platform, and use instead our own integrated workflow engine. This is to have a lighter Platform, with less external componants, as we noticed there were only few interest to embed a full Bpm Platform just to provide orchestration services.

Anyway, it was a difficult decision to remove Bonita,  because  the product is nice and easy to deploy, but because our  integration with Bonita was clean, through a single Api, it was also very easy to switch to another workflow engine. Immediate result during installation is we don’t need anymore to deploy the 2 bonita catalogs …

The BiWorkflow interface is almost the same :

  • we  have simplified the publication process (now, when you exported the workflow on the repository, it’s immediatly available)
  • we added some new box to provide more features (such as the encrypt/decrypt box on file)
  • We have also improved some box (like the flush cache for our olap engine, the Gateway/sub workflow integration or the kpi alert interface),

… but the product is globally the same … because it perfectly meet its objectives, and is so easy to use …

Just review how you suffer when it comes to deploy a workflow with your current Bi Platform … ok, it’s not an existing component ? … just switch to Vanilla !

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 5)

Dear Readers,

In a previous Post (April 3, 2011), I already wrote about BiWorkflow as a development studio to manage agregate of files (Pdf, Excel), which takes part of a set of specific features that help developer to create global documents and manage it (just imagine you have a bundle of Pdf documents to release, BiWorkflow provides an out-of-box feature to aggregate all those Pdf !)

BiWorkflow is easy to understand, easy to use, and workflow documents are easy to deploy. BiWorkflow studio is not tied to Bigateway (Etl), it stands as a single piece of software for all the Vanilla components (such as Burst Report). There are many situation where developers have to manage exceptions such as “is a specific file available”,  “is server available” or subjects such as getting files from any server,  sending documents using a mail gateway, publishing any document on Vanilla portal or on any external portal (Vanilla compliant) or uploading document on any ftp/http server … BiWorkflow provides all you need to design your workflow document

BiWorkFlow Interface

How can you imagine a Bi platform without a powerfull workflow engine & workflow designer ? BiWorkflow document can be scheduled and manage by our ProcessManager or any external scheduler, making it easy to deploy complex workflow that manage documents … just rethink your way to approach any Business intelligence or Document Management application, and turn to Vanilla, it’s time to go !

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 4)

Dear Readers,

The Vanilla platform provides tools to manage various kind of document : any “standard documents” (office, pdf, xml) , media-oriented documents such as image or video and geo documents (such as geo data and various map formats : Flash maps, kml info, wms geo server …).

To manage those different documents, we provide different studio, which can make complex the first approach of Vanilla when dealing with “more than Bi” :

  • BiGateWay (just refer to previous post of this serie), is able to manage kml document to load maps info into our maps repository (tables)
  • BiWorkflow, provide feature to manage external documents in bulk such as loading/uploading all the documents from a network folder, a (s)ftp or any http(s) server … very convenient to build complex operation … an embeded workflow inside a bi platform !!!
  • Norparena package that take care of any other subjects, such as maps definition, address & building design, but also features to manage document indexation (remember : Vanilla embed Lucene as indeaxtion/search engine)
  • FreeMetrics package, that provides interface to geolocalise Kpi … finally any Bi developer can enjoy a studio to push kpi value on any kind of map, using a visual interface !
  • Eclipse PlugIns are available to make Maps & Kpi available in any Birt reports (flash or html maps) … no need to turn to any commercial package to enjoy maps integration inside your reports !

Maps Visualisation of a set of member measure, from an Olap View

Valuable Information not only stands in reports or database anymore. Blog, Mail, Video, external docs and maps contain rich information that are not yet leverage enough. But managing Information is not only pushing a search engine, intelligent maps, ocr recognition or any data mining process, it’s a global approach that should complies with company objectives. As a platform editor, we have to offer the largest set of integrated tools to help developer to achieve their project.

All those subjects – maps, video, indexation, geo-kpi – go beyond the simple “bi” features. In the next post of the serie, I will explain all thoses features, and how we use it to build complex data visualisation interface, using Vanilla portal, FreeDashboard, Birt, FreeWebReport & FreeAnalysis to display the documents and the data,

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 1)

Dear Readers,

Just starting a serie of post to explain how we moved from a full feature Business Intelligence Platform to an Enterprise Information Management Platform. In fact, Vanilla provides all the standard features you can expect to find in a Bi platform : Metadata, Reporting, Olap, Dashboard, Kpi and Maps visualisation, along with additional valuable components embeded into the platform, such as :

– Etl/Workflow/Mdm components : using BiGateWay, BiWorkFlow and Vanilla Mdm, along with Data Profiling / Data quality components, developer have a comprehensive suit of software to manage data

– Document Management / Search Engine : using Vanilla v4, you can now manage any kind of documents (image, external document, video), share those documents using Vanilla portal and start indexation process on various type of text document, to later use an embeded search interface. this comes along with Vanilla document indexation (like reports) and all the tools to manage the library of documents (for content expiration, document authorisation, versioning …) , to provide a global comprehensive document management features

It’s very fun now to compete in some tender (public market, bid, proposal … name it as you want), because we can see customers are moving to “more than only bi” (as we can read through the Big Data marketing noise those past months). In fact, some customers still don’t understand how to align their information management strategy with their internal process, but the process has started : there is a real need to take control on document processing, data flow, and inter application data & document exchange … to better understand what are the data coming from outside, data generated by internal application and data that are published outside the company (public or to partners).

Have Fun !

Patrick

File and document management with Vanilla

Dear Readers,

As you know, with Vanilla v3, we have added a document management component that provide a search feature on keyword for any kind of document (external like word or pdf document document or vanilla document, such as reports). In fact, a Bi platform should not only produce document provide and access to information, but it needs also to provide features to leverage the information, and publish this secured information in a way user can manipulate it.

Document management is not trivial (I’m not talking about report creation !), and we need a dedicated module to do it, with 2 obligation : no code and right place for the feature (we don’t confuse etl and workflow). So, we have added document management functions into BiWorkflow, considering document management is part of a workflow process that can be automate.

Using BiWorkflow, you can easilly produce reports, concate those report into Pdf or Excel document (different folders) and add the document into our document management database (then, document is indexed on keywords), send it by mail or push it on (s)ftp server. So easy, using only drag&drop widget – no coding !

 

Various Concat Activities in Panel (Report, Excel, Pdf)

 

Vanilla Activities (Run BiGateWay, Run Burst Report, Add to Document Management)

 

Simple Workfklow to aggregate 2 reports in an Excel document

 

Excel Aggregate : various document in various folders, panel properties

 

Pdf Aggregate : panel properties

 

All Bi Designers have to do is drawing a Workflow and setting properties in panels … no coding, very easy to develop and to maintain … and provide additional out-of-box features such as xor conditional testing / workflow redirection, file (hard disk) / table (database) management …  and proven usefull feature : BiWorkflow supports user input while workflow is running !

Have Fun !

Patrick

BPM HandBook 2010

Dear Reader,

Thanks to Layna Fisher & her team, I wrote a chapter in the upcoming yearly “Bpm Handbook, 2010 edition”

Bpm Handbook is a visionary document providing the trend & vision in Business Process Management. My chapter deals with 2 hot subjects : Open Source & Business Intelligence, in a Bpm context.

I can’t tell you more than “just buy this book if you want to have a better view of Bpm landscape”. Meantime, you will get valuable information about Open Source BPI (Business Process Intelligence) Platforms, and understand why Vanilla has today no equivalence when talking about true integration of Bi & Bpm components

Have Fun !
Patrick

Emergence of BPI

Dear Readers,

Over the past years, I heard so many things about Bpi : Business Process Intelligence, a kind of concept about merging “Business Intelligence” and “Business Process” features … but beside the concepts, where are the implementation ?

One of the biggest announcement was the Oem agrement between Intalio and Informatica 2 years ago (ok, Etl is only part of Bi … but it was promising !). Honest, I don’t know the status of this integration … I hope they bundled something interesting and usefull for developer and admin

As often in the Open Source : announcement only, buzz … close to vaporware, with only few implementation that has nothing to do with an “out of the box” offer. And don’t expect to find an “Open implementation” that provides a simple but usefull feature such as IReport & Birt support for report deployment (only Vanilla provides this support for both engine in its BiWorkflow)). What is “open” if developers are tied to a technology ?

What is the interest of a Bi application disconnected from a company Business Process ? Bi is no more monolitic, some editors now target ‘Agile Bi’, which is another way to present Bi as a way to extract data from production database and produce report on fly. Sounds great … but what about security & abstraction layer to prevent problems ?
Anyway, Bi is all about levaraging business data and making it available to users in different easy way (dashboard, report, cube, maps, kpi, alerts) and to achieve this goal, Bi as to rely on company process to ensure data availability & data quality, as long as resources availability (databasse server, ftp server, data file, mail server …).

More than developer, Bpi stands also a solution for administrators : How painfull is it for administrator to manage Bi application, to manage daily production & distribution of Bi documents and to ensure that every process went to its end …

With Vanilla, we are trying to answer those simple but crucial questions, with some interesting success by now. Vanilla BiWorkflow – which is the first Bpmn 2.0 Bi workflow Designer – provides access to Bi resources such as report, etl transformation, forms (for user data input or user validation : within Workflow, we have embed support for 3 forms editors … )

I will come back soon with interesting news about Bpm + Bi in the Open Source landscape, this is a fashion subject those days … it’s a nice element that shows Open Source Bi is now deploying at enterprise level !

Have Fun !

Patrick