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An Introduction to topology of Business Automation Workflow on Containers 21.0.2

By Zhili Guan posted Wed September 22, 2021 02:23 AM


IBM Business Automation Workflow (BAW) on containers is part of IBM Business Automation Workflow (BAW), also included in IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation (CP4BA) as one capability.

CP4BA includes BAW, in addition to everything you have in BAW, you have the additional advantages of CP4BA, like Containerized authoring, Workstream Service, Automation Services, Automation Decision Services, Automatic Document Processing etc., and all foundation components like Process Mining, RPA.

The article describes the topology of BAW on containers in CP4BA. Including the capabilities and how the capabilities integrate with each other.


Please note, the topology has some difference between BAW on Containers in BAW and CP4BA. The BAW on containers in BAW does not have IBM Cloud platform foundation, no matter it is on OCP or non-OCP. It means there is no IBM Cloud platform foundation in the topology of BAW on containers in BAW. As a result, you can not use the following features from IBM Cloud platform foundation for BAW on containers in BAW:

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) service. Instead, BAW on Containers in BAW integrate with User Management Services(UMS) directly without delegating to IAM. UMS is configured with LDAP.
  • ElasticSearch service. Instead, embedded Elasticsearch will be applied, and you can always choose to use your external

The BAW container runtime environment provides an enterprise workflow platform to run cloud-native solutions.  It works together with authoring environment that is on the traditional VM or on-premises system, or containerized authoring from CP4BA on OCP.

BAW on containers topology - 21.0.2
The full topologies contain:
  • IBM Cloud platform foundation on OCP

CP4BA comes with the IBM Cloud platform foundation. The foundation includes a set of services that can be installed and used on OCP. The platform foundation includes two building blocks.

    • IBM Automation Foundation Core Services

It provides Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) assisted capabilities. - The AutomationUIConfig package is used to override the default configuration of the platform user interface.

- The AutomationBase package is used to define the configuration of the managed capabilities. For BAW runtime Containers capability, Elasticsearch is required dependency for Process Federation Server, Elasticsearch is an Elasticsearch service, which provides a distributed index containing data from the systems in the federated environment. Workflow Server has JS APIs that need access Elastic Search for search functions. 

    • IBM Cloud Platform Common Services

CP4BA comes with a subset of IBM Cloud Platform Common Services which can be install and used on OCP. As User Management Services delegates authentication to the Identity and Access Management (IAM) service, so it is required.

 Notes: If you are running BAW on Containers standalone licese, User Management Services will not delegate authentication to IAM, and embedded Elasticsearch will be applied, of course, you can always choose to use your external Elasticsearch.

  •  Workflow Center on a VM or on-premises system

IBM Workflow Center is used for iteratively deploying, running, and testing process applications, toolkits, and case solutions in your authoring environment (such as Process Designer).

  • Workflow Authoring from CP4BA on OCP

Workflow Authoring capability from CP4BA allows you to develop workflow automations and workflow automation services in Workflow Designer, which is fully integrated into Business Automation Studio, and can manage your workflow automations. You can test, install and run your workflow automations and automation services in the Liberty-based IBM Workflow Server in the Cloud Pak for Business Automation environment.

  • Workflow Server

Workflow Server provides a single runtime environment that can support a wide range of business processes, cases, service orchestrations, and integration capabilities.

To deploy snapshot to Workflow Server, you could either integrate with Workflow Center on a VM or on-premises system or Workflow Authoring from CP4BA on OCP.

Workflow server registers itself to DBA registry. Process Federation Server monitors the DBA registry entries and federate it automatically.

  • Workflow Messaging (JMS)

Workflow Messaging provides Java Message Service (JMS). It is a standard API for sending and receiving messages. It allows BAW components to create, send, receive, and read messages.

  • Process Federation Server (PFS)

Process Federation Server provides task workers with a single point of access to all of their tasks from a single Process Portal, regardless of the type of process that they are working on and the IBM Business Automation Workflow back-end system on which the process artifacts are stored.

PFS federates Workflow Server that are registered to DBA registry automatically. It then provides data to Federated Process Portal and IBM Workplace. You could also federate on premise BAW system.

PFS register its endpoint to DBA registry as well. Then App Engine could get its endpoint from DBA registry then.

  • Process Portal

IBM Process Portal is a coach-based user interface that is provided with all editions of IBM Business Automation Workflow for participating in processes. From Process Portal, you can launch processes, dashboards, and services and work on tasks. Process Portal can be configured for a single IBM Business Automation Workflow system or for federated environments that include Process Federation Server.

You could configure multiple Workflow Server instances in CP4BA deployment or BAW on containers deployment. All the Workflow Server instances are federated by PFS by default.  If you have configured multiple Workflow Servers instancesone of the Process Portal should be configured as Federated Process Portal. It then retrieves data from PFS, which federates all data from all federated systems.

  • Application Engine (App Engine) and Workplace

Application Engine holds the Workplace. Workplace brings together process, case, and workstream functions to enable you to manage all your work in one place. It offers you a seamless and consolidated user experience to manage and complete different types of work in the same application. Workplace can be configured to work with any number of traditional or container-based Business Automation Workflow systems that are federated using Process Federation Server.

Workplace is deployed to Application Engine Server during Workflow Server initialization. At the same time, a plugin and desktop are created in Navigator.

User could access Workplace in Navigator through the App Engine desktop. It retrieves data from PFS and work with backed Workflow Server when user work on tasks.

User could optimally choose persisting App Engine data to application engine object store (AEOS) in CPE. App Engine access AEOS through GraphQL.

  • User Management Services (UMS)

User Management Services (UMS) provides SSO and Teams options, which provide users of multiple applications with a single sign-on experience and centrally administered teams.

Starting CPBA v21.0.1, UMS delegates user authentication to Identity and Access Management (IAM) service, which is part of the Cloud platform foundation, specifically IBM Cloud Platform Common Services.

  • Content Platform Engine

Content Platform Engine is the content repository that is used for Business Automation Workflow documents and case folders and their documents. It contains object stores for Workflow Server:

  • DOCS: Workflow Server stores document in DOCS.
  • DOS: Case Manager design object store.
  • TOS: Case Manager target object store.
  • AEOS: App Engine object store.
  • Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS)

CMIS is an open-source standard that enables applications to work with one or more content management systems. BAW communicates with the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system that contains the documents and folders by using CMIS standard.

Workflow Server access DOCS, DOS and TOS through CMIS.

  • Content Services GraphQL

Content Services GraphQL API is an intuitive API that enables the caller to create, retrieve, update, or delete resources.

It is for AE data-persistence. App Engine accesses AEOS through GraphQL.

  • Navigator

Navigator enables business users to work with content from various sources and uses business automation applications that are built to help them in their daily job.

During Workflow Server initialization, BAW desktop and App Engine desktop are created.

  • Business Automation Insights (BAI)

IBM Business Automation Insights captures events BPMN and case events generated by Business Automation Workflow, aggregates them into business relevant KPIs, and displays them on meaningful dashboards so that you can analyze your business data. BAI is optional for BAW Container.

  • Business Automation Machine Learning (BAML)

BAML offers two features: intelligent task prioritization and workforce insights. It requires BAI.

 While you deploy BAW runtime on a container environment, you can deploy multiple server instances on different namespace, or on the same namespace, the mapping can be:

  • 1 DB -> 1 Workflow server instance -> 1..n Workflow server Pod(s)
  • 1 namespace -> 1 CP4BA/BAW on Containers deployment (1 CR)  -> 1..n Workflow server instance (s)
  • 1..n Workflow server instance (s)  -> 1 federated portal

Limitation:  Case Manager is a singleton.

Now you may know more about how BAW on Containers assembled, and how you can deploy it, play with it and you can get more detailed information from CP4BA Knowledge Center (https://www.ibm.com/docs/en/cloud-paks/cp-biz-automation/21.0.x), or BAW Knowledge Center (https://www.ibm.com/docs/en/baw/20.x).


An Introduction to topology of Business Automation Workflow on Containers 21.0.2

An Introduction to topology of Business Automation Workflow on Containers 21.0.3

An Introduction to topology of Business Automation Workflow on Containers 22.0.1

An Introduction to topology of Business Automation Workflow on Containers 23.0.1

An Introduction to topology of Business Automation Workflow on Containers 23.0.2

Zhi Li Guan                                                                                  Yun Diao
Developer, Digital Business Automation                              Development Manager, Digital Business Automation





Thu January 12, 2023 05:35 AM

@Ankit Garg Thank you for the comment. Regarding you observations:
1. The diagram is trying to explain that CMIS, UMS, GraphQL are based on Liberty server.
2. Normally we use different database for different component.
3. For CP4BA, there is no Embedded ElasticSearch, it uses IAF ElasticSearch. For BAW stand-alone delivery, it offers an Embedded ElasticSearch. The diagram is for CP4BA. The difference between CP4BA and BAW are described using text.
Operator pods are not included.  From my view, they are deployment tool. Clients use it to deploy BAW. The diagram is mainly the components of the deployed BAW.

Thu January 12, 2023 02:22 AM

Crystal clear architectural view for CP4BA beginners.. Well explained !

Wed September 28, 2022 04:40 AM

@DAVID Jenness Zhili Guan
Couple of observations for your review and advise.
  1. It looks there are some discrepancies in diagram. Examples: Liberty is not bundled with CMIS, UMS, GraphQL. 
  2. Not sure if BAW repository database can be leveraged with UMS, Navigator and Application Engine
  3. Operator and Embedded Elastic search not included in the diagram​​
Kindly review both from 21.0.x and 22.0.1 perspective. Thank you.

Thu September 23, 2021 09:42 AM

Well done!