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What the story on BPEL?

What the story on BPEL? What can it do to help busy IT shops like ours? Is it open source? I've heard that it's an alternative to proprietary business process management tools and could help businesses streamline without getting locked in to the BPM tool vendor. Then, I heard that Microsoft had a commercial version of BPEL. It's confusing.

The Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS or BPEL for short) is an XML-based standard for defining how you can combine Web services to implement business processes. BPEL builds upon the Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) and XML Schema Definition (XSD). There are several new tools being developed by companies like Computer Associates and IBM to deal with BPEL -- and yes, Microsoft does have a production implementation. The BPEL tools define the process in the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and generate the corresponding BPEL and WSDL files to implement that process. This capability is based on the Object Management Groups' (OMGs) Model Driven Architecture (MDA) initiative, which raises the level of abstraction at which development occurs. In turn, this will deliver greater productivity, better quality, and insulation from underlying changes in technology. As a member of the OMG board I am thrilled to see your interest in the subject.

Editor's note: You can find out more about BPEL by listening to this webcast on SearchWebServices.com: BPEL4WS and Application Integration.

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