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New Web services standards connect competing systems ASAP

Two newly ratified OASIS standards enable competing business process management systems to communicate asynchronously.

The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) tomorrow plans to give a live demonstration of two new Web services standards that when used together can link the business process management (BPM) systems of competing vendors.

Experts say the two newly ratified OASIS standards -- Asynchronous Service Access Protocol and Wf-XML 2.0 -- have the potential to increase businesses' return on investment in BPM implementations by making it easier to automate processes throughout the supply chain.

Business process management solutions will be required to coordinate processes across companies. In the future we're going to see more and more companies attempting to do this.
David A. Kelly
PresidentUpside Research Inc.

"Business process management solutions will be required to coordinate processes across companies," said David A. Kelly, president of Upside Research, Inc., an analyst firm in Newton, Mass., specializing in BPM. "In the future we're going to see more and more companies attempting to do this."

ASAP enables Web services to be used in business processes where a response to a service request could take a long time, usually because there is human intervention required. With Wf-XML, companies can link processes being managed by competing BPM systems or technologies.

The WfMC, a nonprofit organization of workflow vendors, users and analysts, plans to demonstrate the interoperability of Wf-XML and ASAP tomorrow at the Brainstorm Group Business Process Management Conference in San Francisco.

Susan Muldoon, vice president of product strategy at Vienna, Va.-based HandySoft Global Corp., one of the BPM vendors taking part in the demo, said that the ASAP/Wf-XML duo represents a "plug and play" standard that allows companies to connect competing systems without additional programming.

Upside Research's Kelly added that standards that link business processes will be significant in the future because they help allay enterprises that are skeptical about implementing BPM systems.


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"BPM buyers are looking for ways to reduce their risk and ensure flexibility," Kelly said. "Being able to rely upon a standard as an underlying part of this process enables companies to integrate with more systems and have flexibility as they grow their automated business process in the future."

The analyst explained that Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) for Web Services might be considered a competing standard to ASAP and Wf-XML. But, Kelly added, both technologies are being pursued by several vendors. Also, he said, if an underlying Web service engine is written in a programming language like BPEL, the combination of ASAP and Wf-XML can safely run on top of it to automate business-to-business processes.

"From the customers' perspective there isn't going to be one clear winner," Kelly said. "I think this is a situation where we're going to see both BPEL for Web services, as well as Wf-XML and ASAP protocols, continue to evolve and be available."

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