T 0515/19 (Business impact management/BMC SOFTWARE) 12-12-2019
SYSTEM AND METHOD OF ENTERPRISE SYSTEMS AND BUSINESS IMPACT MANAGEMENT
I. This is an appeal against the examining division's decision to refuse the European patent application No. 01965508.3 for lack of clarity (Article 84 EPC).
II. The appellant requested that the decision be set aside and the case be remitted to the examining division for further prosecution or "the Appeal Board set aside the decision and allow the application such that it can proceed to an Rule 71(3) procedure". The Board interprets the latter request as a request to grant a patent on the basis of the main or first auxiliary requests filed with the statement setting out the grounds of appeal, dated 11 January 2019. The appellant also requested oral proceedings in the event that the Board was minded not to overturn the decision.
III. In the communication accompanying the summons to oral proceedings, the Board expressed its preliminary opinion that claim 1 of both requests were not clear (Article 84 EPC) and contained added subject-matter (Article 123(2) EPC). The Board added that claim 1 of both requests did not appear to involve an inventive step (Article 56 EPC)
IV. In a letter dated 6 December 2019, the appellant informed the Board that nobody would attend the oral proceedings. Oral proceedings were held on 12 December 2019 in the appellant's absence (Rule 115(2) EPC and Article 15(3) RPBA).
V. Claim 1 of the main request reads:
A method for managing impact of events on business services in an Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure comprising a plurality of paths (IT paths), each comprising IT elements, wherein internal end-users or external customers rely on business services to submit business transactions involving a sequence of application transactions along said plurality of Paths of the infrastructure to form Aggregates representing a snapshot of the IT elements for a path; the method comprising providing a knowledge base, and; comprising:
(a) configuring a backbone (85) comprising an abstraction layer (105), the method which further comprising configuring the abstraction layer by the steps of
(i) providing at least two peer-to-peer service processors (130, 130a, 130b, 130z ) in the IT Infrastructure where a large number of server processors have been installed;
(ii) least (sic) one of the service processors, referred to as a domain processor (120), being provided, from the knowledge base, with a pre-packaged set of event structures, data structures, and rules, such that the domain processor can deliver at least one abstraction service to abstract collected events;
(iii) at least one of the service processors (125), being configured as an ODS processor with a pre-packaged set of event structures, data structures, and rules, such that the ODS processor can deliver at least one object directory service;
wherein the backbone further a comprises a processing layer referred to as a business layer (100),
the method further comprising the step of configuring the business layer by
(i) providing at least one peer-to-peer service processor in the IT Infrastructure; and
(ii) providing the service processor, from the knowledge base, with a pre-packaged set of event structures, data structures, and rules, such that the service processor can deliver business impact statements.
(b) defining a plurality of business objects (STB) related to business transactions in the infrastructure;
(c) defining a plurality of IT objects related to the IT Components in the infrastructure; characterised by
(d) remotely submitting sample application transactions at selected source locations in the IT infrastructure while requesting the backbone to capture execution information along the Paths for each of the application transactions;
wherein remotely submitting sample application transactions comprises the steps of:
(i) decomposing at least one business service into one or more of the business transactions, wherein each business transaction branches to one or more site-specific business transactions (SBT);
(ii) further decomposing each site-specific business transaction (SBT) into one or more site application transactions (SAT);
(iii) organizing each site application transaction (SAT) into an orderly sequence;
(iv) associating to each site application transaction (SAT) at least one parameter to remotely submit a sample site application transaction at an associated source location;
(v) associating to each site application transaction (SAT) at least one parameter to request the backbone to capture related execution information for each sample site application transaction; and
(vi) defining at least one business user group as a resource dependent on at least one of the site business transactions for at least one of the business services.
(e) sending monitoring requests along Paths to monitor the Paths used by the application transactions to form monitoring information;
(f) abstracting the monitoring information into business impact information using abstraction rules, an abstraction rule being triggered by the arrival of information to generate an event, abstraction forming business impact information.
Claim 1 of the auxiliary request differs from claim 1 of the main request by:
- the addition of the wording "defining one of the IT Paths for each site application transaction (SAT)" as step (iv) and renaming steps (iv), (v) and (vi) of the main request to steps (v), (vi) and (vii) respectively
- Replacing step (f) by the wording "(f) propagating the monitoring information to said at least one domain processor (120) which uses the knowledge base to abstract the monitoring performance into business impact information related to business services and business user groups, the abstraction being done by using abstraction rules triggered by the propagated information."
1. Main Request - Article 84 (EPC)
The Board considers that claim 1 does not comply with the requirements of Article 84 EPC for the reasons set out below.
1.1 The expression "The (IT) Infrastructure comprising a plurality of paths (IT paths), each comprising IT elements" is unclear. Firstly, it is not clear what criteria is used for assigning IT elements to IT paths. Secondly, it is generally not clear whether assigning IT elements to IT paths alters the structure of the distributed IT infrastructure or merely constitutes a mental act.
The appellant referred in the statement of grounds to page 6 of the original application and argued that the IT paths were clearly defined throughout the description as paths taken by the transactions. However, the argument that the unclear claim term can be understood by reference to the description does not overcome the clarity objection, as Article 84 EPC requires that the claims be clear in themselves (see decision T 49/99, point 12 of the reasons and decision T 1129/97, point 2.1.2 of the reasons).
1.2 The expression "submit business transactions ... to form Aggregates representing a snapshot of the IT elements for a path" is unclear. Firstly, even if snapshots are interpreted as subsets of IT elements, it is not clear what criteria are used for assigning IT elements to snapshots. Secondly, it is not clear how submitting transactions in some IT infrastructure can allow the snapshots to be formed.
The appellant argued in the statement of grounds that the aggregates were well known and used for storing compact summary data relating to a person, business or transaction history. The appellant referred to a Wikipedia entry concerning aggregate operations in SQL databases and to description pages 7 and 38 in combination with Figure 20.
The Board does not deny that the term aggregate has a recognizable meaning in the field of relational databases. Since, however, the claim relates to a different technical context, this argument does not overcome the above clarity objection. A reference to the description does not overcome this objection either (see the preceding point).
1.3 It is not clear, even taking the description into account, to which functionality step (f) relates. In particular, since it is not clear to which kind of processing "abstracting the monitoring information" relates, it is not clear which information is output by the abstraction rules and which role the rules fulfill. The appellant argued in the statement of grounds that the skilled reader was clearly taught that a number of abstraction rules were provided and that the rule determined how an abstraction was to be done according to the particular event which triggered a certain rule. However, this argument does not really explain what "abstracting" actually involves in the context of claim 1 and does not overcome the clarity objection.
1.4 It is not clear what functionality the service processors and server processors provide (step (a)(i)) and it is not clear how a service processor, interpreted as a piece of executable code, can be provided from a knowledge base which does not contain a programming code (step (a)(ii)).
2. Auxiliary Request
The objections under Article 84 EPC raised for the main request also apply to the auxiliary request.
3. As none of the requests is allowable, the appeal must be dismissed.
For these reasons it is decided that:
The appeal is dismissed.