Sunday, February 28, 2010

Book review: The Decision Model

The last package from Amazon brought me the book entitled: "The Decision Model: A Business Logic Framework Linking Business and Technology" by Barbara von Halle and Larry Goldberg.

I have read a draft of the book before, at Barb's request, and wrote a review, from which one line was quoted on the back cover; I believe that the trend of modeling decisions and look at them in perspective of higher level abstractions will become more pervasive, and I view technologies like business rules, event processing and various analytics as building blocks in decision platforms that are going to be notable part of enterprise computing and managing much of the operational decisions. The book has three sections:

Section I puts the decision model in context, explains what is decision model, providing a background comparing decision models with data models, and positioning decision model in the SOA and BPM universe, it also explains the business value. This section is intended mostly for business users and managers that want to get an overview.

Section II explains the decision model in detail, discussing the structural, declarative and integrity principles, and comparing the decision model to the relational model, a motive repeating in previous books by Von Halle. There is even a chapter that is called "The decision model formally defined", but the formalization is in terms of explanations and tables, and not by formal writing, which I guess fits the target audience.

Section III is called "Commentaries" and is actually a collection of articles by the authors as well as by various people active in this space (John Zachman, James Taylor, Bruce Silver and more) discussing specific related issues such as: relations to enterprise decision management, standards, business decision maturity model.

Event based decisions and event processing are mentioned several times within the book, but are not thoroughly discussed. The focus is on facts and rules kind of terminology; a combined model that combines both rules and events is a natural extension, from the point of view of this decision model as well as from the point of view of event processing modeling. I have written before about decision agents, and since that time advanced on the thinking about such a decision agents framework. I'll revisit this issue in one of the following postings.

Bottom line -- the decision model book is a very good book to explain the book to various types of readers (the introduction maps the chapters of the book to the various types of users) and possible basis for both pragmatic foundations of rules technology, as well as a possible basis for a more formal basis for extended decision agents framework. More on this topic -- later.

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