OASIS Forms Committee to Promote BPEL

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2003-04-29

OASIS Forms Committee to Promote BPEL

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Systems (OASIS) is poised to announce the formation of a technical committee to promote a standard for interoperable business processes and business process execution for Web services orchestration.

The new technical committee, to be announced as early as Tuesday, is known as the OASIS Web Services Business Process Execution Language (WSBPEL) technical committee. The group, led by IBM, Microsoft Corp., BEA Systems Inc., Siebel Systems Inc. and SAP AG, will work to advance the Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS) specification. BPEL4WS is an XML-based specification that deals with Web services choreography.

IBM, Microsoft, BEA, Siebel and SAP will officially submit BPEL4WS version 1.1 to OASIS under royalty-free terms on May 16 when the technical committee meets to consider submissions of related technology or standards efforts.

Meanwhile, other companies involved with BPEL4WS and who are members of the WSBPEL technical committee include CommerceOne, E2Open, EDS, Intalio, NEC, Novell, SeeBeyond Technology, Sybase, Tibco Software, Vignette and Waveset, among others.

Intalio Inc., San Mateo, Calif., a provider of business process management systems, said it provides full support for BPEL 1.0 and the Business Process Modeling Language specification. Company officials said native support for BPEL 1.1 will be included in the next release of Intalios core product.

BPEL4WS actually competes with another prominent standards effort. And some see the submission of BPEL4WS to OASIS as a controversial move, in that it goes counter to the existing efforts to standardize this space. Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp. are supporters of the Web Service Choreography Interface (WSCI) specification, as is BEA, which also supports BPEL4WS. And the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a working group at work on a Web services choreography/orchestration specification, which does much the same as BPEL4WS. Microsoft attended the first face-to-face meeting of the W3C choreography working group, which was held at Oracle headquarters, but the company did not pursue it any further.

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"It seems a shame Microsoft and IBM want to take their work in a separate direction from WS-Choreography," said Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at Iona Technologies Inc., Waltham, Mass. "If I were the W3C, Id be concerned about the indication here of a possible shift in the balance of power between W3C and OASIS in Web services specifications. Its been a kind of open question in the industry over the past couple of years about who would take the leading role in Web services standardization. This is the first time that a directly competing TC [technical committee] was established by OASIS that overlaps with a WG [working group] already established at W3C. And this is also an instance where Sun and Oracle are on one side, and Microsoft and IBM on the other, which has the potential for a serious rift."

Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Cambridge, Mass., market research firm, said: "The submission of BPEL to OASIS is a great step for BPEL as well as Web Services in general. BPEL is a key specification aimed at providing a mechanism by which Web Services can be orchestrated into business processes, which can then be exchanged and choreographed with external processes. Business process is a critical aspect of adoption of Web Services and especially Service-Oriented Architectures since business processes are how companies define their business requirements that must then be implemented with Web Services. Without process, all you have is a jumble of Web Services. Specifications like BPEL bring order to the chaos by specifying a logical flow by which Web Services can be orchestrated to meet defined business requirements."

Indeed, Schmelzer said the competing standards issue is a nuisance.

"Now that BPEL is part of OASIS, we think vendors are going to flock to adopt the specification, which will benefit the industry as a whole," Schmelzer said.

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