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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) And Oracle BPEL Process Manager

I confronted BPEL oracle technology while trying to learn webservices provided by peoplesoft. I went for a search for the same and found the details below from the oracle site.

1. What is BPEL?  How does it relate to Web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA)? 
There is a constant pressure for businesses to interconnect their applications. This is what is driving the adoption of web services and SOA as an enterprise blue print for reducing the cost and complexity of integration initiatives. Making web services work is a two-step process: first you publish and then you orchestrate. Publish means taking a part of a existing system and exposing it as a service. Orchestrate means composing multiple discrete services into an end-to-end process flow. BPEL is the industry standard for orchestration. 

2. What is/was the motivation behind BPEL?  How does it differ from other/past attempts/technologies aimed at the integration/business process problem?  Can you talk briefly about the evolution of BPEL? 
Orchestrating a set of services into an end-to-end process flow entails a new set of technical requirements (binding to heterogeneous system, synchronous and asynchronous message exchange patterns, data manipulation, flow coordination, exception management, undeterministic events, compensating transactions, side-by-side versioning, in-flight instance management and auditing). The goal of BPEL is provide a richer and yet simpler abstraction/standard for addressing those requirements. Although it is a fairly new standard, it leverages from 10+ years of research and development Microsoft and IBM invested in XLANG and WSFL.

3. What is orchestration?  What does it mean to build composite applications?  Why would anyone want to? 
Existing systems are not going away. Yet enterprises need to build new applications that can leverage the functionality encapsulated in those existing systems. The notion of a composite application is based around the idea of building new applications by wiring together existing building blocks. Orchestration plays an important role in this picture because it is the glue that coordinates the execution of each discrete service. A good orchestration server needs to be reliable, scalable and render the BPEL process logic with very high fidelity.

4. What exactly is Oracle BPEL Process Manager?  What is it composed of?  How does it relate to the rest of the stack?
The Oracle BPEL Process Manager is a new addition to the Oracle product portfolio. It enables enterprises to model, deploy and manage BPEL processes. It comprises an easy-to-use BPEL modeler, a scalable BPEL engine, an extensible WSDL binding framework, a monitoring console and a set of built-in integration services (transformation, user task, java embedding). It makes BPEL/Web service orchestration a first class citizen of the Java platform.

5. What differentiates BPEL Process Manager from other process integration offerings?
Four things:
Native and comprehensive BPEL support
Extensible binding framework (which means that you can orchestrate not only Web services but also JCA, JMS, etc)
Ease-of-use (you can get up and running in less than 15 minutes)
Cross-platform support (Oracle Application Server but also WebLogic, WebSphere, etc.) 

6. Why does/should openness matter to customers?  Portability?  Interoperability? 
Interoperability is important because the core of the value proposition is to take parts of existing systems and compose them into higher level business flows. Portability is important because business processes are key IP assets of an enterprises and customer do not want to be locked into a specific solution.Openness is important because large enterprises have WebLogic, WebSphere, and Oracle Application Server and we offer them a solution that works equally well no matter what there existing app server investment is.

7. Why is native BPEL important?  What is the disadvantage of products that only import/export BPEL?
Historically every time a standard has been adopted (SQL, J2EE, LDAP, SMTP/POP/IMAP, HTML, etc.), native solutions have won. It is because native solutions are less complex, faster and offer richer functionality. It is also because re-architecting an engine around a new abstraction is very difficult, especially if you have an existing install base that you need to maintain and evolve in parallel.

8. How will Oracle Business Integration take advantage of BPEL and BPEL Process Manager going forward? 
SOA, BPEL, and composite applications bring us one step closer to "real-time enterprise." We believe that rich business activity monitoring is the next step as it provides details visibility into the execution of cross-functional processes and a platform of business process optimization. You should expect to see a lot more from Oracle on that aspect of the solution going forward.

9. How has/is Oracle been involved with the evolution and standardization of the BPEL spec?  How does this relate to Oracle's other integration and Web service-related standards efforts? 
Oracle is a very active member of the OASIS BPEL committee. With more than 6,500 developers using the BPEL Process Manager, we are at the forefront of the adoption of BPEL and can circle back the feedback we are collecting to the committee. Oracle is also actively involved of peripheral specifications: WS-reliability, WS-messagedelivery, WS-context, WS-security, JSR-208/Java business integration. All these standards are coming together to transform the internet into a messaging/integration backbone. They will therefore play a very important role in the adoption of BPEL.

10. BPEL Process Manager (as well as JDev, ADF, TopLink, etc.) run on any J2EE servers.  Why is Oracle so committed to open standards and open interfaces? 
Because they are good for Oracle in that they allow us to leverage the hundreds of man-years invested in building a scalable and reliable container. And they are good for our customers in that they prevent them from being locked in.

11. What version of the BPEL standard is supported by Oracle BPEL Process Manager? 
BPEL PM 10.1.2 and 10.1.3 supports BPEL4WS 1.1. However, some features from WSBPEL 2.0 working draft have already been implemented in the BPEL PM 10.1.2 and 10.1.3 releases. We plan for full support for BPEL 2.0 shortly after it is released and expect a smooth migration path. More information about Oracle's position on BPEL 2.0 can be found here.

12. How important is .NET compatability?  To what extent does BPEL Process Manager support it? 
.NET is probably fourth or fifth on the list of systems customers want to integrate with, so it is fairly important. The BPEL Process Manager ships with examples showcasing how a BPEL process can invoke a .NET service as well as how a .NET client can initiate a BPEL process. We are looking at extending those samples to demonstrate security and reliable messaging.

13. BPEL is cross-platform, but is there any advantage to building the underlying services on a J2EE platform?  If so, What are they? 
The J2EE platform is maturing towards better support for clustering, virtualization and monitoring. By architecting the BPEL Process Manager as a set of J2EE components, we will transparently leverage those capabilities. Virtualization, automatic deployment, on-demand scalability, and self-healing are notions that marry very well with business processes so it will be very interesting to see those developments come together.

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