Putting Process Firmly in the Clouds, a look at Ekuar's Cloud-based BPM suite

Ekuar is a relatively young company compared to some other players, having been in existence as a private company for around 3 years but it’s heritage can be traced back to the likes of Fuego and BEA. Patricio Herrera was formerly involved in BPM and SOA Performance at BEA Aqualogic before taking the decision to found and head up Ekuar, a BPM tool which is completely cloud based using the Amazon EC2 service. Given the attention on moving BPM services to the Cloud I decided to have a look at what Ekuar has to offer.

Ekuar is build on eFlex and is fully flash based. When it was first released v1 featured simply the modelling environment. v2 implemented simulation and this latest release now has ‘Social BPM’ features in the form repository sharing and “BPM Talk”, a chat-like function to collaborate with colleagues when modelling.

When logging into the service via the website you’re presented with a repository view, however unlike most which are modelled on a file structure approach Ekuar is built on a naming and label approach which allows users to tag processes as they see fit. There’s an incremental search function which builds a list of processes as you start typing and filters down the results as the criteria build up.

The modelling environment uses BPMN 1.2 for it’s palette and features validation as you pull the process together rather than at the end which is a nice touch. With the built in change/ audit features users can compare versions of processes pretty easily and visually too. In fact, this comes into it’s own when you start using the collaborative features. Sharing models with other users looked good, both able to make changes on the process and talk to each other via the BPM Talk function. Conflict management has been thought of and highlights who has made changes and which should be kept and merging these changes switches to a comparison view so both previous and current versions are side by side in order to review before saving.

Ekuar has implemented a few more views depending on the role of the user:

 

  • Documentation view, allows more business oriented users to document the activities behind the process
  • Script view for the more technical users which features the integration layer of the tool, enabling you to call services into play or write code directly
  • Simulation view, which as it sounds allows users to simulate direct from the model in the cloud environment. Users can browse the timeline of the simulation for example and call up the BPM Talk function to chat with others about the results, again pushing the collaboration features strongly.
  • Rather nifty way to view the repository itself which looks like the album browsing view in iTunes

 

Patricio explained that you can take existing models and import them via the XPDL file format. As a testament to how far they’ve come in those 3 short years Ekuar has entered into a joint venture with Polymita to provide a fully integrated and online BPM suite featuring execution, monitoring, modelling, simulation and collaboration all from the one portal. Their site is seeing an upsurge in interest since v3, registering around 25 new users per day to try them out although I have to say their new corporate website revamp isn’t really hitting the spot for me just now as it doesn’t really tell you anything so I hope they fix that soon.

Clouds may look like fluffy and floaty things but it appears at first glance that there’s nothing wooly about what Ekuar has to offer for BPM.

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