Using Workflow Systems for Managing Business Processes Efficiently*
Dr. Divyakant Agrawal**
Department of Computer Science
The plethora of powerful desktop computers and availability of
communication networks that connect these machines has created an
ideal environment for automating "work" in business enterprises. In
this talk, I will begin with a brief overview of a workflow system
called FlowMark*** that has been developed at IBM to manage complex
business processes in large enterprises. In particular, I will
describe the modeling capabilities and overall system architecture of
FlowMark. At IBM Almaden, research is underway to incorporate
advanced features into workflow systems. The Exotica project**** is
looking at the issues related to reliability and scalability of
workflow systems, using advanced transaction models to handle semantic
failures in long-running activities, and to deal with disconnected
operations of workflow clients. The current architecture of FlowMark
is relatively centralized and may suffer from single-point of
failures. We are investigating alternative architectures for workflow
systems that do not suffer from such problems. I will conclude this
presentation with some of the open problems system architects confront
when dealing with heterogeneous databases and legacy systems.
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
* Work done in collaboration with: Gustavo Alonso, Amr El Abbadi,
Roger Gunthor, Mohan Kamath, and C. Mohan.
** Currently on sabbatical at IBM Almaden Research Center.
*** FlowMark is a registered trademark of IBM Corporation.
**** IBM Almaden Research Center's Exotica project aims at incorporating
advanced capabilities in IBM's products and prototypes. Even though
we refer to specific IBM products in this presentation, no conclusions
should be drawn about future product plans.