Business Process Management and Workflow Automation software has been around for a while. However, a platform-neutral, standards-based approach using Web services is new. That approach yielded BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services), a specification for Web service orchestration which aims to standardize integration logic and long-running processes across Web services.
IBM, Microsoft and BEA released the BPEL4WS (aka BPEL) specification in August 2002. This significant industry milestone has taken Web services technology a leap forward by enabling the application of SOA (service-oriented architecture) to solving business integration problems. The BPEL standard, superceding XLANG (Microsoft's BizTalk language) and WSFL (IBM's Web services flow language), quickly garnered industry-wide support after its submission earlier this year to OASIS.
The adoption of BPEL is expected to have material long-lasting impact on customers and vendors alike by drastically reducing the cost, complexity and skill requirements associated with providing solutions to business integration and process management problems.