Business Support System
Added by IBM contributorIBM | Edited by Claudia R Elbourn on June 9, 2015
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The Business Support System (BSS) is a platform for managing and administering processes that support Software-as-a-Service.

BSS provides functionality that is similar to a site that fosters the sale of hard goods but with a few fundamental differences. For example, BSS provides catalog, ordering, and subscription management capabilities for soft goods such as services to host an online meeting or foster online collaboration. Additionally, instead of waiting a few days for your service to arrive, BSS instantly provisions your services so that they are ready to be used immediately.

The functional architecture of BSS includes a set of subsystems for provisioning and administering services in a secure way. These subsystems are shown in the following diagram. The business logic in these subsystems is implemented in various components that are fronted by REST interfaces. Various clients can access these REST interfaces by communicating via JavaScript™ Object Notation (JSON) over HTTP protocol. The REST APIs are built to conform to industry standards.

Note: For more information about REST, see RESTful Web services: The basicsexternal link on IBM developerWorks.

Functional architecture of BSS

The following diagram shows the flow of an HTTP request from a client application to the BSS core application server, which implements various business functionality such as customer and subscription management tasks. See the steps below the diagram for details about the sequence of events that take place during the request flow.

Request flow from client to server

At a high level, the request flow takes place in the following order:


  1. An HTTP request is sent from a custom application.
  2. The request is passed to the IBM® Tivoli® Access Manager WebSEAL proxy server, which manages user authentication processes.
  3. The IBM Tivoli Access Manager WebSEAL proxy server authenticates the request.
  4. The request flows through the web server to the BSS proxy application.
  5. The BSS proxy application formats the request and sends it to the BSS core application server, which manages all the business core logic.
  6. The BSS core application server interacts with other components to store and retrieve information or to perform operations such as sending email.
  7. The BSS core application server sends the JSON response back to the application.

BSS terminology

Before using BSS APIs, learn common terms and definitions that are associated with BSS. The following diagram shows the basic relationships among some of the key players described below.

Image to show basic relationships among BSS key players

To learn about the life cycle of these primary objects, such as how they transition from one state to another, see Object states.



An organization or company that purchases or pays the ongoing bills for a good or service.


An organization that offers the goods or services of another organization to its own customer set. A vendor (or reseller) can have multiple customers. When a vendor registers with the IBM Customer Service Group (CSG), the primary contact is designated the VSR role (described later in this topic). The person with the VSR role can add other users and customers to the organization of the vendor.

Service offering/offering

A product that is offered to a customer for purchase.


A user who is entitled to use a particular service offering. A customer can have multiple subscribers, but each subscriber can have only one customer.
When a customer registers with the vendor, the primary contact is designated as the administrator (described below). The administrator can add other subscribers to the customer's organization.


A person who manages or carries out operation tasks on behalf of an organization, for example creating a subscriber or entitling a subscriber. Every customer must have at least one administrator, although multiple administrators are allowed.


A collection of service offerings.


The right for a set of subscribers to use a set of services and the features associated with those services.
Subscriptions are created when a customer buys a specific offering. Typically, a person with the CustomerAdministrator role assigns a seat to subscribers for a particular subscription. After a subscriber has a seat, that subscriber can use the services associated with the subscription.


Associates a subscriber to a given subscription.


The process of notifying services about the resources needed for the subscribers who will use those services.


BSS supports a number of roles for administering customers, managing users, and performing user operations. These roles are used in conjunction with authorization policies to determine which functionality is allowed in the system.

The most important relationships are those between a customer and a vendor and between a customer and a subscriber. The vendor can be associated with numerous customers, but those customer are all independent of each other. The customer purchases subscriptions, and multiple services are associated with those subscriptions. A customer has its own set of subscribers who are assigned to one or more subscriptions that are owned by the customer. Customers assign subscribers by providing them a seat on the subscription.

The following list describes the major roles and their capabilities in the system. One user can have more than one role. In this case, the privileges are determined by combining roles.


The VSR role can use any of the REST APIs to administer any customer or subscriber in the vendor's organization, for example creating paid subscriptions or suspending a customer. This role is assigned to the person who calls the IBM Customer Service Group (CSG) to register the vendor.


When a company is created for a customer and its subscribers, at least one user with the CustomerAdministrator role is required. The person with the CustomerAdministrator role can manage various operations in a company, for example operations for managing subscribers and subscriptions.


This role provides users with access to the various services they have been subscribed to. This role is the most common role in BSS and is held by the most users.

BSS REST services

BSS provides the following categories of REST services:

Table 1. BSS REST services

Use these APIs to perform administrative operations for the customer organization, for example registering or suspending customers.
Use these APIs to perform administrative operations for subscribers, for example adding subscribers, removing subscribers, and entitling subscribers to subscriptions.
Use these APIs to perform administrative operations on subscriptions, for example creating or removing subscriptions for customers.
Use these APIs to manage credentials, for example changing and resetting passwords.
Use these APIs to manage user roles.

For common scenarios that are built around a combination of APIs, see Common scenarios. For a complete list of error messages related to BSS REST services, see Error messages and user actions.