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Is BPEL Positioned for the Future?



BPEL is an XML-based language built on top of the OASIS Web Services specs. It serves to define and manage long-lived business processes, giving users a single point of control for their processes and providing the flexibility organizations demand.

Initially, BPEL was proposed by BEA Systems, IBM and Microsoft as BPEL for Web Services (BPEL4WS). SAP and Siebel Systems helped to revise the spec prior to its submission to the OASIS committee. Several vendors, including BEA, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle as well as some open-source organizations, such as ActiveBPEL and JBoss jBPM, have released BPEL-compliant implementations.

WS-BPEL 2.0 offers a number of new features and improvements. It's the first standard version and moves toward the portability of business process execution across vendors' BPEL engines. It also creates a solid foundation for future versions.

Integrating disparate systems and applications into end-to-end business processes has always been a challenge. Web services emerged as a means to expose the functionality of these systems across the enterprise, but Web services, by themselves, don't address the need to integrate and coordinate business processes.

Business Process Execution Language, or BPEL, also known as BPEL4WS and WS-BPEL, addresses that weakness by providing a model for how business processes are handled by Web services. Although the BPEL specification has been around for more than five years, the pending WS-BPEL 2.0 specification is more precise; it clarifies and corrects many ambiguities and positions the specification well for future versions.

BPEL has many constructs to deal with the invocation of Web services, including fault handling, correlation and support for conditional logic. The WS-BPEL 2.0 specification improves and adds to these constructs.

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