IBM has joined Microsoft - which announced BizTalk 2004 last month - in implementing Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS) for the first time, writes Bloor Research analyst Peter Abrahams. WebSphere products incorporating the technology will make its way into the public from the middle of this year.
The development and server environments are packaged separately but are very closely aligned. This announcement is a significant step forward for IBM to provide a fully-integrated Service Oriented Architecture. More announcements this year should extend the support for modelling and monitoring to provide complete lifecycle support.
IBM's WebSphere is a large and complicated family. Below I have tried to position all the parts that are directly related to this announcement.
WBISF, WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation, is the new version of WebSphere Application Server Enterprise, and is IBM's top of the range server product. It includes the function of Application Server Express, Application Server, Application Server Network Deployment, MQ, and MQ Event Broker. On top of that it adds process choreographer (the code that implements BPEL) and business rule beans (WRBeans). WRBeans is a framework that supports the implementation of business rules externally to the application and choreographies that make up a business process. The naming of the top of the range product 'foundation' is because it is used as the foundation for IBM's range of industry solutions. However it should not be confused with WebSphere Integration Server 4.2.2 which is different.
WSADIE V5.1, or WebSphere Studio Application Developer Integration Edition v5.1, is the replacement for WSADIE V5.0, and is the top of the range application development environment that is needed to develop all the functions incorporated in WBISF. It incorporates all the functions in WebSphere Application Developer V5.1.1. WSADIE is built using Eclipse and has a consistent and powerful set of visual editors to define the process flow, message transformation and business rules. It also incorporates all the application development tools so giving a single environment for application development and application integration.
These announcements apply at present only to Windows and Linux.
BPEL rules the rules
BEA has also committed to BPEL (Business Process Execution Language), as this XML-based markup language is also known in the Web services trade.
Many important companies are supporters of BPEL - and also happen to sit on the Technical Committee of OASIS, the Web services standards body. So it would appear that BPEL is to be the Web services standard for specifying how software is integrated and the way in which business processes are managed. BPML, or Business Process Markup Language, a rival specification, does not enjoy BPEL's industry support and is sufficiently similar that migrating from it to BPEL will not be a major issue.