Businesses are complicated - they have intricate processes, are continually evolving, and need to be scalable. For companies that rely on software as a core component of the business, that complexity is typically reflected in their business-critical software applications.
One strategy that maximizes value and minimizes software complexity is using a business rules engine that encapsulates business-specific logic and keeps it separate from the rest of the application code. Here is more information about what a business rules engine is and how it can benefit your business.
What is a business rule?
A business rule is logic that encompasses what a business can and can’t do. It breaks down how a company operates into logical statements that can be used to evaluate whether or not a given input complies with the required criteria. Business rules can be integrated into an application to help validate data to ensure it complies with the defined requirements. When applied to a dataset within the software, the rule will provide a true or false result, depending on whether or not the dataset “passes” that particular rule.
What is a business rules engine?
A business rules engine helps decouple the storage and management of business rules from the rest of the application code. The rules themselves are persisted in a repository, which is isolated from the rest of the code, not integrated or scattered among other parts of the application. The rules engine communicates with the rules repository and integrates into the application core, where it is responsible for receiving application data, executing the business rules against this application data, and returning a result back to the application core.
One of the main benefits of using a business rules engine is that updates to the rules do not require making updates to the rest of the application code. This functionality helps developers:
- Make it easier to maintain the application
- Keep the application flexible as the needs of the business change
- Minimize the risk and cost of updating
- Free up resources that can then be used to innovate on the business side.
In addition, rules engines often have a load balancing feature, which increases the scalability of an application by offloading the execution of rules to multiple servers. Offloading the rule processing enables the primary web server to handle a higher volume of requests.
Lastly, a rules engine can also offset the expensive and CPU-intensive operation of executing business rules against application data.
How to Use Them
The initial setup requires integrating the rules engine component into the application. By wiring up the plumbing so the rules engine is accessible from the application, it can return results of the rules execution directly back to the application. Once this is complete, rules can be authored and added to the business rules collection. Some rules engines also provide a stand-alone application with a UI for creating and maintaining business rules. This allows the business team to author rules without relying on software developers to code them into the application.