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BPEL4WS: Another big step for Web service standards

The three new Web services specifications announced by IBM, Microsoft and BEA Systems are a step in the right direction for creating a common approach to define and implement business processes. Hurwitz "applauds" the effort and expects the WS-Coordination, WS-Transaction and BPEL4WS specs to be turned over to OASIS by the end of the year.


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BPEL4WS: Another big step for Web service standards
I'll admit it. I was one of the voices arguing that Microsoft and IBM would not agree on a single standard for workflow and business processes for Web services anytime soon. Much to the surprise of many of us, IBM, Microsoft and BEA Systems announced specifications to add transactional support to the Web services foundation and outlined a common approach to define and implement business processes. The three new specifications are:

  • WS-Transaction. WS-Transaction is designed to provide "consistent and reliable operations through distributed agreements across organizational boundaries." The translation is a specification that provides a uniform way of managing short-lived transactions that require a two-phase commit and long-lived transactions that are trust-based relationships.

  • WS-Coordination. WS-Coordination is "a framework for deploying coordination protocols like WS-Transaction and supports the specification of additional coordination protocols." This means that the specification is extensible for additional or new coordination protocols and allows a business process to be associated with any number of coordination styles.

  • Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS). Despite the awkward naming convention, BPEL4WS is an XML-based workflow definition language that allows businesses to describe processes that can both consume and provide Web services. Essentially, BPEL4WS is a common construct for addressing business process semantics within a heterogeneous enterprise and among diverse external business partners.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: The software industry is sticking to its goal of a common set of Web service specifications to address messaging, interoperability, security, and now business processes. So far, the industry leaders have also lived up to their promise to transfer ongoing development of Web service specifications to independent bodies like OASIS and W3C. Hurwitz Group applauds this effort and expects to see these three new specifications turned over to OASIS before the end of the year.


Copyright 2002 Hurwitz Group Inc. This article is excerpted from TrendWatch, a weekly publication of Hurwitz Group Inc. - an analyst, research, and consulting firm. To register for a free email subscription, click here.



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