BPEL4WS solves that problem by offering a base set of activities and semantics to glue them into a flow. <receive>, for example, is an activity that allows you to define a rule where execution of flow is suspended until a message is received. Implementing this in Java is more than a trivial task. To summarize, asynchronous message-driven interactions drive the need for flow coordination. BPEL4WS offers a standard approach to implementing the flow logic. Orchestration servers offer *containers* where BPEL-based flow logic is executed, monitored and managed.
Here is a link to an example of the kind of applications/long-running processes that can be build by stringing together asynchronous services.
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