Product plans afoot for BPEL4WS spec

Major backers of the BPEL4WS specification for Web services business processes are preparing products to implement the technology, which is being submitted for consideration by OASIS as an industry standard.

But a spokeswoman for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) expressed fears that Web services standardization could be fragmented, with both Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and W3C now pondering Web services business process, or choreography, standards.

BPEL4WS, or Business Process Execution Language for Web Services, also has been known as just BPEL. Developed by IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., and BEA Systems Inc. and introduced in August 2002, the specification is intended as a way to describe business processes constructed as a collection of Web services, which is sometimes referred to as choreography, said John Kiger, director of Web services strategy at BEA in San Jose, Calif.

"By this fall, you'll see real products delivered that use BPEL4WS to do business processes between these heterogeneous systems," said Steven VanRoekel, Microsoft director of Web services, in Redmond, Wash.

Microsoft, for example, plans to support BPEL4WS in its BizTalk Server application integration platform, VanRoekel said.

"BizTalk Server will be able to be an end point to basically pass [business process] information to other vendors, independently of them having to run the same software," he said.

IBM later in 2003 will integrate the technology into its WebSphere Business Integrator product line, said Carla Norsworthy, director of dynamic e-business technology at IBM, in Raleigh, N.C. BPEL4WS presents the ability to achieve the goal of pulling together and rapidly changing a business process that includes application code written for different platforms, she said.

BEA will add BPEL4WS to its WebLogic platform later this year to enable business processes to be exchanged across heterogeneous environments, Kiger said.

Siebel Systems Inc., meanwhile, has been working with IBM, Microsoft, and BEA on using the specification in the Siebel Universal Application Network offering for multi-application integration, said HiteshDholakia, senior manager for Universal Application Network at Siebel, in San Mateo, Calif.

SAP AG by the end of this year plans to implement BPEL4WS in various products, including its Exchange Infrastructure, which is a messaging platform for integrating SAP and non-SAP systems, said Inisa Zimek, director of technology and standards at SAP, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Despite supporters' ambitious plans for BPEL4WS, a spokeswoman for W3C, which also is deliberating Web services technologies including choreography, expressed fears that the dual OASIS and W3C efforts would lead to fragmentation and hinder standardization for Web services.

W3C spokeswoman Janet Daly said the OASIS charter for the BPEL4WS technical committee does not provide for interoperability and coordination with other choreography efforts.

"It means that unlike the W3C work, where we're required to work with other working groups, this group is not required to coordinate with anybody," Daly said. But Web services needs to be about everyone working together in order for standards to happen, she said.

"There are legitimate reasons to be concerned," Daly said. W3C has tried to work with the authors of BPEL4WS, she said.

But BPEL4WS supporters said they did not expect a conflict with work going on at W3C.

"Our expectation is we will work on BPEL4WS in the OASIS group and we'll have a relationship between OASIS and W3C to coordinate [activities]," Norsworthy said. "Our hope is the W3C work could focus on complementary aspects of this space."

The goal is to have one common standard for the industry, she said.

Ed Cobb, BEA vice president of architecture and standards, said W3C could work on areas such as a global process model or an interface format between different systems.

BEA also has been involved in development of a rival choreography specification submitted by Sun Microsystems Inc. to the W3C, known as Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI). But BEA has no plans to support WSCI in its products, Kiger said.

Sun and other industry players will be invited to participate in the BPEL4WS effort, according to supporters.

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