Tuesday, February 03, 2009

[Misc] It becomes quiet around BPEL?

BPEL stands for Business Process Execution Language and will be used to execute business processes. But there are other standards which can also be used to execute your business process. What about XPDL - XML Process Definition Language? Nevertheless, many BPM vendors adopt their workflow engine to BPEL in order to survive on the BPM market. It's a mistake. Most of the products provide a BPEL engine as an additional modul, because most of the BPM/Workflow Engine products work successfully without using BPEL. At the same time as BPEL was pushed, the BPMN - Business Process Modeling Notation - was hot discussed, a notation to model business processes. When you look on the BPMN homepage you will find a BPMN to BPEL transformer, describing the mapping of BPMN elements to suitable BPEL elements.

I find an article with the topic "BPEL: Who needs it anayway?" written by Keith Swenson, discussing the usage of BPEL in the industry.
"There are a few vendors who promote BPEL as as the one-and-only-true-way to support BPM. In fact, it is good for some things, but fairly bad at a large number of other things. It is my experience that BPEL is promoted primarily by vendors who specialize in products we might rightly call “Enterprise Application Integration” (EAI). These companies have recently taking to calling their products “Business Process Management”. Potential users should be asking the question “Is BPEL appropriate for what I want to do.” In that aim, there should be a large number of articles discussing what BPEL is good for, and what it is not, but there are very few articles of this nature."
He also mentioned that BPEL supporter make the following assumptions:
  • The people making the processes are programmers
  • The activities in a process only need to send, receive or transform XML data
  • Any standard will be better than no standard
What about the human integration in BPEL? The human integration is not supported in the standard, yet. You can use the WS-BPEL Extension for People, where each vendor implement this on his own way.

In the article he illustrates how to execute a BPMN diagramm directly using XPDL. The diagram is interpreted directly without converseion to another model.

To summarize, I see there are a lot of successfull SOA projects which do not use BPEL. It goes also without BPEL. However, there are scenarios where BPEL is very useful and makes sense, but I will mention, that BPEL is not the "All-Solution" standard. I am strained on the future of BPEL.

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