1) Sure, the "owner" is a necessary part of it. IBM and Microsoft, who co-authored the BPEL4WS spec, seem to be very strongly behind it, with BEA maybe hedging their bets a little. None of those "owners" would be enough on their own, but together, that is a different story. There is a good reason to believe that they will "train" this horse over time to be a strong runner.
2) We have to place a bet on not just tomorrow's race, but all the races for the next few years and none of the other horses give us more confidence for the future. The alternatives to BPEL4WS have all been around for a while and none has succeeded in the marketplace. If you believe a standard is valuable in this arena, you have to pick *one*. At this point in time, it is hard to pick one other that has more potential down the road than BPEL4WS.
3) BPEL4WS (and related standards) do have some interesting characteristics in and of themselves. In particular, the leverage of Web services and support for asynchronous conversations. BPEL4WS derived features and prior experience from WSFL and XLANG, from IBM and Microsoft respectively.
As a final note, Collaxa, the company I work for, is not affiliated with the owners of this horse, but as was stated above, being in the space calls for placing a bet. We feel most comfortable putting our money on BPEL4WS right now.
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