A BRMS Primer

Blog Post created by robin.d on Nov 1, 2017

Business Rules Management System (BRMS): One system merging expertise and simple management.


Expert systems have been around for some time now and they are used widely. Each implementation is tailored to a special purpose, and these implementations require attention from experts in order to function properly, as they are very rigid and hard to maintain. Since expert systems are extremely specialized they are not ideal for a scalable business. While the capabilities of an expert system are undoubtedly useful, their distinctive structure requires unique attention, leaving some things to be desired. To address this lack of flexibility, yet still maintain similar function, one can use a BRMS architecture.


It is widely accepted to refer to rules based production systems as expert systems; however, it is technically incorrect. It's easy to get confused between the expert system’s architecture and expert systems themselves. The architecture becomes an expert system when an ontological model is applied that represents an expertise field. A BRMS is far more versatile than an expert system. MYCIN is a common example of a medical expert system in which rules are hard coded to prohibit simple modifications. This limits the users, not allowing them to make iterations to address the how and why of the system. The first BRMS was born in the wake of MYCIN to adapt to a more permissive environment. The term Business Rule Engine (BRE) is often used to refer to BRMS, however, it is ambiguous because it can refer to any system that uses business rules in the core of its processes.


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The inference engine uses rules and facts to identify the cases to be used to optimize the execution agenda.


In describing the architecture of BRMS, one cannot omit algorithms used in chain or back chain rules. BRMS differentiate from BRE because they are more complete and do not limit to backward and forward chaining algorithms. BRMS offer the RETE algorithm, which is a schema based reasoning applied to optimize rules. When activated, the RETE algorithm transforms the BRMS into a hybrid rule and schema based software solution.


How exactly does a BRMS allow users to define the right business process? Rules can be created according to different levels of freedom for the final users.

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Several different rules development templates exist. There are rulesets to create one or more rules, templates that control rule instantiation, and even decision table templates for more advanced solutions. The more complex the BRMS, the more templates are offered for rules creation. It’s the responsibility of the software architect to choose which template model to use.


These rules are kept in the rules repository, which may or may not be under a source control tool such as Apache Subversion. Repositories require special attention; they must maintain resilience and coherence of all rules at any cost. Two types of repositories exist, open or proprietary. The ease of maintenance is related to the operations that are available to manipulate the repository.


Should you need a BRMS software for one of your projects, I encourage you to investigate for yourself, as not all products are equals and offer differing capabilities. It’s a matter of budget, time, and effort.


Visit our Blaze Advisor and Decision Management group for more information about applying a BRMS.