Changing the Rules

EAI is getting more and more press these days. Rules-based engines are hot and can form a key part of distributed application architecture. Why is a rules-based engine important? Consider the following real-life problem. An auto insurance policy is regulated by federal laws, state laws and, sometimes, municipal laws. The coverage offered by the policy can change every fiscal quarter depending on the regulatory agencies. When a law changes, the information system that encapsulates that rule has to be changed, re-coded and put into production. This often implies a lengthy change cycle, which may not be completed in the time frame needed for the regulatory change. Then the new policy has to be published on paper and approved by the regulatory authorities. This becomes a business nightmare.

Rule bases are a way out of that conundrum. A rules-based engine allows the rules to exist on a server, independent of the application logic. The rules can be updated at any time by a business user. We are talking hours and days here, not months! Once the new rule is coded, the next policy is issued in conformity with those rules. And presto! You have made your regulatory change. Of course you still have to correct the paper copy and get it approved, but now the business can focus on the business process and optimize it.

Rules-based thinking has been around for years, and good system …


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