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Technology Vendors Publish BPEL4People Specifications

Leading Technology Vendors Announce Publication of 'BPEL4People'

Extends WS-BPEL 2.0 OASIS Standard, Submission to OASIS Imminent

[Update 2008-01-14] In January 2008, OASIS announced that consortium members had submitted a charter proposal for a new WS-BPEL Extension for People (BPEL4People) Technical Committee. Companies sponsoring the proposal include Active Endpoints, Adobe, BEA, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Software AG, and Sun Microsystems.

June 25, 2007.

A group of leading technology vendors, including Active Endpoints, Adobe, BEA Systems, IBM, Oracle, and SAP AG, today announced the publication of 'BPEL4People' specifications, which define an approach for integrating human interactions using Web Services Business Process Execution Language (WS-BPEL) 2.0.

BPEL4People extends the capabilities of WS-BPEL to support a broad range of human interaction patterns, allowing for expanded modeling of business processes within the WS-BPEL language.

"It's becoming increasingly critical to understand and support human interactions when modeling business processes," said Charles Abrams, Research Director, Gartner, Inc. "The publication of these specifications is a substantial step in bridging human and IT interactions within the WS-BPEL language."

WS-BPEL focuses on business processes that orchestrate Web service interactions. However, in general, business processes are comprised of a broad spectrum of activities that most often require the participation of people to perform tasks, review or approve steps and enter data — for example, a credit approval scenario that may require approval on certain transaction limits or activity levels. These human interactions are now addressed in the new specifications.

BPEL4People is comprised of two specifications including:

  • WS-BPEL Extension for People which layers features on top of WS-BPEL to describe human tasks as activities that may be incorporated as first-class components in WS-BPEL process definitions.

  • Web Services Human Task introduces the definition of stand-alone human tasks, including the properties, behavior and operations used to manipulate them. Capabilities provided by Web Services Human Task may be utilized by Web services-based applications beyond WS-BPEL processes.

"BPEL4People represents an important addition to the BPEL lexicon," said Fred Holahan, co-founder and chairman of Active Endpoints. "Human interactions are fundamental to many business processes, and BPEL4People provides a flexible way to model those interactions using BPEL, the definitive Web service orchestration standard."

"Adobe is dedicated to creating rich and immersive online and offline experiences. BPEL4People is a tremendous milestone in closing the gap between human behavior and structured business processes and establishing standards for effective process management," said Kumar Vora, vice president of product strategy, Adobe. "WS-Human Task extends the ability for organizations to use open-source Flex to build standards-based applications that are intuitive and interactive."

"BEA is committed to helping advance industry standard for truly interoperable business process technologies. Toward this end, we contributed to the WS-BPEL specification and now the specifications for BPEL4People," said Ed Cobb, vice president, Emerging Technologies and Standards, BEA Systems, Inc. "We believe that the extensions defined by BPEL4People are an important step forward, designed to allow for standardized involvement of manual tasks into WS-BPEL processes."

"Our customers are using WS-BPEL to define business processes based on Web services," said Karla Norsworthy, vice president of software standards, IBM Software Group. "With BPEL4People, they will find it much simpler to model the many complex ways in which people participate in business processes."

"As one of the original supporters and early implementers of BPEL, Oracle is pleased to see the specification evolve to meet the needs of technical and business level users," said Don Deutsch, vice president, Standards Strategy and Architecture, Oracle. "With our support of BPEL4People, we are making it easier for customers to integrate their human workflow processes into heterogeneous application environments and implement service-oriented architectures."

"It's exciting to see the outcome of early thinking by SAP and IBM about the need to address human interactions and tasks within business processes in a SOA environment," said Michael Bechauf, vice president, industry standards, SAP AG. "By simplifying the design of business process and enabling standards-based integration of human interactions within business applications, these specifications will help speed the pace of business and reduce integration costs substantially."

The authors plan to submit the specifications to OASIS in the near future and will propose a Technical Committee to produce an OASIS standard based on it. OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) is a not-for-profit, international consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of e-business standards.

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See the news story "BPEL4People Specifications Integrate Human Interactions Into Business Process." See also: "Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS)."

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