IBM BPM on Cloud


What is Cloud Computing?

In simplest terms, Cloud computing is computing over Internet. Cloud computing is analogous to plugging into electric grid managed by experts to get a low cost, reliable power supply that is available with much greater efficiency than you could generate on your own. Power is a utility service – available to you on-demand and you pay only for what you use. Cloud Computing is also a utility service – giving you access to technology resources managed by experts and available on-demand. You simply access these services over the internet, and pay only for the resources you use.

For consumers, cloud computing is becoming increasingly common for example, accessing web-based email services like GMail, social media applications like Facebook, Media streaming services like Youtube, Content Management like Dropbox and so on. Traditional desktop softwares such as Microsoft Office has moved partly to cloud in the form of Office 365.

In terms of Business, there are various service models that one can choose for their cloud computing needs. The major ones being:

  1. Software as a Service (SAAS): Business subscribes to an application that it can access over the Internet. Microsoft 365, BlueworksLive etc are some examples.
  2. Platform as a Service (PAAS): Businesses are provided computing platforms that include operating system, execution environment, database, web server and so on to create their own custom applications. For example: Heroku,, Google App Engine.
  3. Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS): Businesses are provided with storage, networking, servers, and other computing resources in the cloud. For example Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure,Google Compute Engine etc.

IBM BPM on Cloud

BPM on cloud is one of the two SAAS offerings that IBM offers in the smarter process portfolio. The other being BlueworksLive which is a cloud based Business Process modeler that is available for a while now. In this post we will focus on the BPM on Cloud.

IBM BPM on Cloud is the SAAS offering through which each client has their own instance of BPM on Cloud that is isolated and where they will have not have to share the computing resources with other customers. BPM on Cloud includes all the same capabilities of BPM that customers would have in their on-premise installation of IBM BPM. The only difference would be that IBM automates the setup of the BPM instances and manages the infrastructure in a highly available manner for the customers.

IBM BPM on Cloud is built on Soft Layer which is an IAAS owned by IBM. Customers have a choice of installing their instance of BPM in one of their various data centers located around the world. In most cases that would be the closest data center to the customer or may be in the region closer to the customers majority user base.

Customers have two types of subscription models and both the subscription models include BPM software, Cloud Infrastructure and Management services :

  • Named User: Every user has their own Id and the customer will pay for the number of authorized users.
  • Concurrent User: Based on the capacity, meaning how many concurrent users can login at the same time. This is cost effective where the customer has a large number of infrequent users.

The Process assets are portable, i.e., the customers can export the assets from their on-premise installation and import it onto BPM on Cloud and vice versa. This makes it a good case for customers who are not comfortable to host their Production application in the Cloud to still be able to have their Development, Testing environments hosted on Cloud.

Layers of BPM on Cloud Managed by Customer Managed by IBM

The above tables gives an overview of how the different layers of BPM on Cloud are managed. The customers will have a complete control over the Application development, deployment, governance and the data. The customers have the ability to manage the users and their roles, through which users are authorized to access different interfaces within BPM. BPM on Cloud also allows SSO for customers using SAML.

IBM on the other hand manages the BPM environment including the initial installation, installing patches and other updates going forward. IBM follows the best practices in optimizing the configurations for monitoring performance and maintaining a highly available environment with a SLA of 99.93% uptime. IBM performs daily backup of all the BPM environments and has a recovery time of 4hrs in DR situations.

IBM offers some Accelerators and Tutorials as a part of the their cloud offering. These may accelerate development of pilot projects for new customers who want to evaluate if BPM is a good fit,  but these may not add a lot of value to many existing customers, especially the customers with in house BPM expertise. From my experience, it is not common to reuse such business processes for the reason that the processes b/w companies vary immensely.

BPM on Cloud is a good fit for customers who want to evaluate IBM BPM or existing customers who wants to try out a newer version of IBM BPM. This is also a good fit for customers who can manage production solution on-premise but needs to get a head start with development and testing efforts to meet their go-live dates. BPM on cloud also offers a lot of value for customers with small or no IT department, customers who prefer cloud solutions, customers with urgency in implementation.

Like with any other SAAS offerings, BPM on cloud has its own set of challenges in moving existing customers to cloud or signing up new customers:

  • Security & Privacy: By outsourcing the IT infrastructure, the customer gives away data that might be sensitive and confidential. This reliance on the provider to maintain the security of their data makes it difficult for the companies working with sensitive information.
  • Dependency: Dependency is one of the major drawback of Cloud computing. This is known as “vendor-lock-in” as it difficult to migrate from BPM on Cloud to on-premise at a later time because of what may be a large data migration. This may also lead to risking the security and privacy of the data.
  • Limited Control: The customer has relatively less control than they like over the infrastructure and its configuration. This would hinder some customers who are used to having a finer level of control over their infrastructure.

For anyone who is interested in trying out the BPM on cloud, they can register for a 30 day free-trial.



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