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Introducing Business Entities and the Business Entity Definition Language

Posted by Boris Lublinsky on Apr 28, 2010

In a new article, Data4BPM, IBM’s Prabir Nandi, Dieter König, Simon Moser, Richard Hull, Vlad Klicnik, Shane Claussen, Matthias Kloppmann and John Vergo introduce the concept of business entities as a means of representing the business view of data. They propose two new standards, the Business Entity Definition Language (BEDL) and BPEL4Data for the holistic design and execution of process with Business Entities.

According to the authors:

In most business process management tool suites, data is treated mostly as an afterthought. Activities and their flows are the main abstractions and the data manipulated by the processes is essentially hidden in process variables. The presentation and aggregation of data is handled outside of the process definition, and implemented through generic service calls. This process-only approach ignores the important data perspective during business operation analysis, often obscures key aspects of the operations, and can lead to costly re-factoring throughout the solution lifecycle.

In their article they promote making data entities first class citizens of the process design and introduce Business Entities as:

... key business-relevant dynamic conceptual objects that are created, evolved, and (typically) archived as they pass through the operations of an enterprise. A Business Entity includes both an information model for data about the business objects during their lifetime, and a lifecycle model, which describes the possible ways and timings that tasks can be invoked and performed on these objects.

The article proposes a Business Entity Definition Language (BEDL) which defines the BEDL meta-model and syntax, discussing possible runtime architecture to support BEDL specifications. It also presents an overview of BPEL4Data - an approach for extending the BPEL standard to support explicit interoperation with BEDL components.

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