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Dr. Shiyong Lu Department of Computer Science Wayne State University. Chapter 1: Overview of Workflow Management. Dr. Shiyong Lu Department of Computer Science Wayne State University. Overview of Workflow Management. The DUS Triangle (C. Zhai, 2008).

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Chapter 1 overview of workflow management

Dr. Shiyong Lu

Department of Computer Science

Wayne State University

Chapter 1: Overview of Workflow Management

Overview of workflow management

Dr. Shiyong Lu

Department of Computer Science

Wayne State University

Overview of Workflow Management

The dus triangle c zhai 2008
The DUS Triangle (C. Zhai, 2008)

  • Many computing paradigms can be characterized as an instance of the DUS Triangle.

  • Workflows is one such computing paradigm (a workflow connects tasks, agents, data together with flows.)

What is a workflow
What is a workflow?

  • A computerized model of a business or scientific process consisting of multiple workflow tasks and their coordination dependencies.

  • Workflows are essential to enterprise operation as most business activities of an enterprise today are computerized and automated using workflows.

  • Workflows become increasingly important for scientific computing as more and more scientific computation and analysis processes are represented and executed as workflows.

A workflow example
A workflow example

(S. Lu, 2002)

What is a workflow management system
What is a Workflow Management System?

  • A Workflow Management System (WFMS) is a system that supports the specification, execution, and monitoring of a workflow.

  • Supports a high-level workflow specification language (e.g., BPEL)

  • Applications or users describe their workflows using that language.

  • WFMS interprets a workflow of that language by a coordinated execution of the tasks in the workflow.

Major components of a wfms
Major components of a WFMS

(C. Lin, et al. 2008)

(Hollingsworth, 1995)

Process definition tool
Process definition tool

  • Defines a workflow using a workflow specification language in a textual, graphical, or scriptual format.

  • The output of such a tool is a workflow definition that typically includes:

    • Workflow name, version, creation time, author, description, keywords, etc;

    • Workflow tasks;

    • Coordination dependencies, typically in terms of controlflows and dataflows.

Workflow enactment service
Workflow enactment service

  • Interprets a workflow specification by creating, executing, and managing runtime instances of workflows;

  • Consists of one or more workflow engines;

  • Schedules the invocations of workflow tasks;

  • Maintains the status of runtime instances of workflows and tasks.

Workflow client applications
Workflow client applications

  • Supports the execution of workflow tasks that need to be performed by humans (human tasks).

  • A workflow engine creates and enqueues work items to a worklist.

  • A worklist handler dequeues and routes work items to different users for performing.

  • Issues: communication mechanism, access control, scheduling, load balancing, user interface design.

Invoked applications
Invoked applications

  • Supports the execution of workflow tasks that are performed automatically by computers (automatic tasks);

  • Invoke various local or remote heterogeneous applications;

  • Session, data, execution, and event management.


  • On one hand, a workflow might go across multiple enterprises, on the other hand, different enterprises might choose different WFMSs.

  • Interoperability at various levels:

    • Subsystem

    • Task

    • Workflow

  • An effort led by the Workflow Management Coalition (

Administration and monitoring tools
Administration and monitoring tools

  • Administration:

    • User management

    • Role management

    • Audit management

    • Process supervisory functions

    • Resource control

  • Monitoring

    • Status, progress, performance of execution of workflows

    • Failure report and human intervention

What is a workflow application system wfas
What is a Workflow Application System (WFAS)?

  • An ad hoc system that is deployed based on a particular workflow specification typically with the support of a WFMS.

  • It only supports one or a set of fixed closely related workflows for a particular workflow application.

  • Workflow evolution is possible but usually needs to go through a formal business re-engineering procedure.

System requirements
System requirements

  • Availability. It is important for an enterprise to conduct its normal business operations.

  • Reliability. Workflows need to be executed reliably even in the presence of failures and concurrency. Status and data cannot be lost.

  • High throughput. Efficiency of a company’s business operations. Many users and many task runs/per second.

  • Scalability. The system should scale well as the demands and resources increase.

System requirements con t
System requirements (con’t)

  • Security. As the system is accessible by many users, potentially from different geographically distributed enterprises, security is important.

  • Interoperability. On one hand, a workflow might go across multiple enterprises, on the other hand, different enterprises might choose different WFMSs.

Developers of a wfas
Developers of a WFAS

  • System analyst. The system analystworks with the customer to identify business rules, requirements, and policies and produce a requirement analysis document.

  • Workflow engineer. The workflow engineer designs a workflow specification based on the requirement analysis document.

  • Application programmer. Implements individual workflow tasks and interfaces of the workflow and deploys the system.

  • Project manager. Direct and oversee the successful completion of the whole project.

Users of a wfas
Users of a WFAS

  • End users. Perform human tasks assigned to them.

  • Workflow administrator. 1) Manage workflow end users and applications; 2) Monitors workflow execution; and 3) Intervenes during failures of workflow execution.

  • System administrator. Responsible for the whole system: 1) hardware and software need, 2) configuration, and 3) performance and security.

The trend of workflow
The Trend of workflow

(1/10/2012), interpret it on your own risk!