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    What are the best BRMS solutions in the Market ? - Linked In Business Rules Engines Interest Group

    Mark Norton  28 January 2011 10:26:06 a.m.
    Idioms Reply:

    The key question is – why use a BRMS at all. Most rules are perfectly adequately declared in Java or C# for instance, and the internal IT department is always the major BRMS competitor.

    So why a BRMS – I think the primary objective is separation of the ‘rules’ from the underlying system. But let’s be clear – we don’t mean just any rules, we mean decisions. For instance, it would be nonsensical to detach the rules that define a valid date (the 30th February?) from any system component that processes dates. The rules we want to extract and manage are those that are intrinsically defined by the business, and not those defined by the domain at large. For the sake of clarity, we refer to these exclusively business defined rules as decisions.

    Separation of these ‘decision making’ rules from the host system takes the rules out of the SDLC and allows for a new ‘decision development life cycle’ – one that can implement changes in decision logic in minutes rather than weeks or months. It also means that the business’ decisions can be transparent and auditable. In the form of discrete decision models, the decisions can be cataloged, counted, valued and traded – they become assets. And these assets can be given to business domain experts for safe-keeping, control, and adjustment like any other asset of the business.

    Better still, the underlying system is dramatically simplified and agility is increased. With rules as ‘pluggable content’, the system becomes a machine of much more predictable dimensions.

    If the above is an acceptable position to take, then what sort of BRMS would achieve these objectives? The following come to mind as desirable attributes of the ‘best’ BRMS:

    ·        If the business is to own and manage them, the BRMS must be business operable (say, as easy to operate as Excel, a tool widely used by the business) – preferably graphical without any scripting or arcane knowledge requirements;
    ·        For the business to be able to assure completeness, correctness, and consistency of the rules under their control, the BRMS must allow system independent and business operated testing that is sufficiently rigorous to ensure the integrity of the decision models without reference or connection to any system – after all, the decision designer may not even know which systems will be running their rules;
    ·        If they are to be transparent and auditable, they must produce decision documentation that is intelligible to any business reader;
    ·        If they are to be pluggable, the must be independent of the system AND the system technology – treat Java, C# and others equally;
    ·        It should allow easy many-to-many deployments between the decision models and systems, including third party systems; it is an arbitrary and unrealistic constraint to assume that systems will only have one source and type of rules, or that a set of rules will only be relevant to one system;
    ·        The architectural constraint on the host platform should be as light as possible – the BRMS should allow the architects to freely choose language, execution platform, and integration method of choice.

    As to the best price - only Idiom publishes its price!

    Thanks and regards,

    Mark