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Commentary: The right Web services process standard

Companies should bet on BPEL4WS today because commitments from SAP and Siebel, along with backing by Microsoft, IBM and BEA, will tip the balance in its favor.

Commentary: The right Web services process standard
By Forrester Research
Special to CNET News.com
April 16, 2002, 1:30PM PT

By Ted Schadler, Principal Analyst

Applications heavyweights SAP and Siebel Systems have joined BEA Systems, IBM and Microsoft as co-authors on the BPEL4WS business process specification--and given it to OASIS under royalty-free terms. It's good news for companies focused on Web services.

Forrester spoke with executives from those software makers about their plans to submit BPEL4WS, or Business Process Execution Language for Web Services, to OASIS with 22 other co-submitters. We believe that the standards body will extend that specification with the best parts of competing specifications Web Service Choreography Interface (WSCI) and Business Process Modeling Language (BPML) to create a single process standard.

Companies should bet on BPEL4WS today because commitments from SAP and Siebel will tip the balance in its favor. BEA, IBM and Microsoft already support the specification. Now SAP and Siebel say they'll implement it in their integration products later this year and will use it for internal application integration as well. Meaning? WSCI and BPML will fade away, and users can start coding to BPEL4WS today, safe in the knowledge that their application links will migrate to the standard when it's ratified.

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IBM, Microsoft and others push
one proposal despite efforts by the
W3C to sort through others.

Royalty-free license terms remove a barrier for software companies to get on board. The co-authors rightfully view customer adoption as the most important hurdle in making a business process standard meaningful--and that means ubiquitous support from the software community. So they're submitting this specification under a royalty-free license, permitting any software maker to use it without cost.

The track record for IBM's and Microsoft's Web service standard is unblemished. Moving from proposal to widely adopted standard is never easy. But recent cases lead Forrester to conclude that the effort will be successful--witness, for example, the successful transition of WS-Security from specification to OASIS standard to WS-I supported standard.

The bottom line? Companies should feel confident that real standards for reliable messaging, security and work flow will appear in products by 2004.

© 2003, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.