Thursday, April 22, 2004


It has been an interesting week in the land of BPEL.

For starters, Microsoft has been in a bit of a predicament. In August of 2002, Microsoft came out saying that they were going to deprecate their proprietary process language (X/Lang) in favor of a new open process language called BPEL. Well, Microsoft missed a couple of ship dates on their BizTalk product and eventually shipped their BizTalk 2004 with X/Lang. In order to save face, they created a mechanism to import and export portions of their X/Lang scripts in BPEL format. Now, Microsoft is saying that oh... the Business Process Execution Language isn't really an execution language - get this - it's an interchange format! Brilliant.

Now, depending on who you talk to at IBM you may find that BPELJ is a good thing. Although, some of the product groups were quite surprised to see the research guys published a white paper on the topic. Interesting. Well, it is worse. In addition to WSFL, BPEL, BPELJ, and the new JSR207, it appears as though IBM is considering additional process languages related to the Rational line of products that are more closely tied to UML. Brilliant.

Well, BEA not wanting to be 'out-dumbed' by MS or IBM has decided to throw more effort at BPELJ, and whine about the lack of progress on JSR207. As one of the BEA insider told me, "BEA is a Java company, not a web services company." What this implies is that BEA is having a hard time dealing with a 'service oriented language' like BPEL in their object-oriented, java-based platform.

So, what can we expect? Here are my predictions:
1. BPEL continues to move forward and serves as the primary foundational technology for executable business process descriptions.
2. A variant of BPELJ becomes JSR207.
3. Microsoft never budges off of X/Lang as their base language
4. The OMG guys create an enhanced Activity Diagram that is 'close enough' to stubbing out BPEL.

Next question: Is this good?
Yes. It is expected that MS will do things their own way - Microsoft will create whatever technology that they need to make things easy for their customers - sure, it will largely lock them in, but most Microsoft shops already know that they're locked in - otherwise they'd be Java shops.

And it is expected that IBM/BEA will bypass the JSR process to expedite a new Java-friendly implementation that Sun will end up incorporating into J2EE. Sun will grumble, eventually adopt it and then find a way to lose money on it.

Last question: What will OpenStorm do?
[coming soon...]

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