This is a discussion that is doing the rounds at Microsoft at the moment so I thought it might be interesting to add my thoughts.
So what is BPEL?
Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) is a means of describing high-level state transition interactions of a process or processes in a standardized fashion. The concept described is usually referred to as an Abstract Process.
An Abstract Process represents a set of publicly observable behaviors in a standardized fashion. An Abstract Process includes information such as when to wait for messages, when to send messages, when to compensate for failed transactions.
The main drive for BPEL came from the notion of "programing in the large" - that is being able to provide a language to describe programing at a 'high level' rather than "programing in the small" which is seen to be at the database table, code segment level.
BPEL is an orchestration language, not a choreography language. The primary difference between orchestration and choreography is scope. An orchestration model provides a scope specifically focusing on the view of one participant. Instead, a choreography model encompasses all parties and their associated interactions giving a global view of the system a more collaborative vision.
So do we need to support BPEL
In essence here lies the problem. BPEL is at its best when dealing with Business Process Integration. As we push into the world of Business Process Automation (BPA) and Business Process Management (BPM) we need much mre than orchestration, we need human workflow, collaboration and additional prcoess definitions. But we also need to be able to compete against IBM and Orcale and their like who continue to push the BPEL compatibillity card. No BPM / BPA/BPI RFP would be complete without the ubiquitous line "Is the editor BPEL compliant?".
So what we need from Microsoft is an approach that has served well down the years for the Office suite - the ability to import and export a lesser format - in this case BPEL, in case of Word it is RTF. Whilst all the feature richness is not there we stil meet the minimum standard.
If not BPEL the what?
Ah the hard questions Mr Bond.....There are a number of 'new' standards moving to the fore. One worth examining is Business Process Modelling Notation or BPMN. This introduces a number of new Process concepts: Private (internal) business processes Abstract (public) processes Collaboration (global) processes
These provide us with more scope to describe what really is going on in our business development.
More info can be found at: BPMN
Previously posted at blog.Solidsoft.com