The Concept

AutoMate BPA Server 9 is the only platform that spans all phases of the automation life-cycle; including development, deployment and management. Its focus on intuitive interfaces for design and development of workflows mixed with a powerful offering of development tools allows the creation of tasks without writing a single line of code.

Workflows serve two very important functions. First, they visually represent business processes and information flows, which means that non-technical managers and IT professionals can jointly see, understand,  and even design their processes. Second, they contain all substantial information – the events and schedules that trigger automation, the tasks and machines that execute automation, and the conditions which control automation flow necessary for their operation and management.

In addition to workflows, AutoMate BPA Server 9 provides an extensive array of tools for creating sophisticated tasks without the need for writing code. This speeds up application development while reducing required expertise, resulting in a vast reduction of costs. Furthermore, AutoMate BPA Server 9 decreases the hassles and expense of maintaining code over the long haul and eliminates errors introduced by process delays and repetitive worker activities.

Components


In a client server environment, AutoMate BPA Server 9 logically separates high-level workflow design from the complexity of building detailed automation tasks and provides automated execution and centralized control over processes involving one machine or the entire enterprise. In order to perform such duties, AutoMate BPA Server 9 is equipped with the following components.

Server

The server component of AutoMate BPA Server 9 is the nerve center and repository of all information necessary for the management and control of automation. The server runs as a service and stores objects in XML format within an internal database, or optionally, in a connected database server such as Microsoft SQL Server. Server objects include workflows that contain reusable objects also stored in the repository. These objects include tasks (which are detailed instructions for automation processing), conditions (which enable workflow initiation and decision-making), and flow controls (which relate workflow objects and enable conditional branching) Agent.

Agents

To enable multiple-machine automation, the server component connects with execution agents via TCP/IP. Agents can detect system, application and network events and conditions that can trigger workflows. Agents also can interpret AutoMate’s AML (AutoMate Markup Language) and execute detailed AutoMate tasks comprised of more than 300 different actions and activities.

Development and Management Client

The Development and Management Client component of AutoMate BPA Server 9 provides all the tools for designing, developing, managing, and administering the server and execution agent components. The Development and Management Client consists of three graphical applications:

  1. Server Management Console (SMC) - The SMC provides the interface for centralized management and administration and allows you to graphically manage all elements of the AutoMate BPA Server 9 including workflows, the Repository, users, and agents.

  2. WorkFlow Designer (WFD) - The WFD is the actual canvas for designing and creating automated business processes. It allows you to design, store, and organize workflows, which consists of tasks, events, conditions and flow control arrows.

  3. Task Builder - The Task Builder is used to visually assemble AutoMate actions into sequential task steps to be carried out, whether the task is triggered or run manually. This component is also highly graphical, and so is loaded only when designing tasks. Additionally, the Task Builder is fully equipped with a wide variety of debugging tools to easily examine and troubleshoot problem tasks, eventually ensuring maximum reliability when the task is put into production.

Architecture


A Task is the primary and most important object in AutoMate BPA Server 9. A task is composed of a series of steps, based on AutoMate BPA Server 9 actions. Tasks can be designed to automate any of a very wide spectrum of business processes. An unlimited number of tasks may be created and organized on a single AutoMate BPA Server 9 installation. A task can also include one or more events that causes it to run automatically.  

Actions

Actions are the available processes that can be used to build the steps to be carried out when a task is run. AutoMate BPA Server 9 has over 230 from which to build tasks. These actions are assembled visually (no code) via drag-and-drop in the Task Builder component.

Events

A one-time occurrence that can initiate a workflow. For example, in the Schedule event, once a date or time or other interval occurs, the event starts the workflow.

Conditions

Conditions when met cause a task to run. When a task includes an event, it monitors the system for the starting event (such as a schedule, a file arriving in a designated folder, or a particular event being written to the Windows event log). When the starting event occurs, the task runs.

Similar to events, conditions affect workflows, but also capture state changes that events typically produce and direct the workflow according to the state. Unlike an event, which is a one-time occurrence and then is over, a state has duration once it has been reached. For example, the appearance of a file in a network share is an event, and the existence of that file is a state. Both the event and the state are conditions – the event is "when the file exists" and the state is "if the file exists." Thus, conditions can be used to initiate workflows (i.e., start workflow A when file X appears), wait for certain events to transpire before an active workflow is permitted to proceed past a certain point (i.e., after workflow A is initiated, wait for the Notepad window to appear before continuing), or to make a decision and conditional branch within the workflow (i.e., after workflow A is initiated, evaluate whether the Notepad window is open – if yes, execute Task 1; if no, execute Task 2.  An event causes a task to run. When a task includes a event, it monitors the system for the event (such as a schedule, a file arriving in a designated folder, or a particular event being written to the Windows event log). When the event occurs, the task runs.

See Also

Server Management Console Quick Tour

Workflow Designer Quick Tour

Task Builder Quick Tour