RealTime IT News

Start-up Forges Open Source BPEL Group

As further proof that open source technologies are bleeding into the mainstream, start-up Active Endpoints has hatched a Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) initiative and submitted core technology under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Shelton, Conn.-based Active Endpoints Monday announced the formation of ActiveBPEL, LLC, an open source subsidiary whose goal is to stimulate interest in, and educate the industry about, BPEL.

BPEL is a language for specifying business-process behavior based on Web services, a popular distributed computing model for allowing software applications to communicate with one another.

BPEL ties business processes with current programming methodologies to orchestrate transactions on the Web, bringing the interests of the enterprise realm closer to the technology stack. Such integration is key at a time when companies are using Web services and their service-oriented architecture (SOA) cousins to consolidate disparate applications and code bases.

To make this happen, the software maker has licensed the entire code base of its ActiveBPEL software engine to ActiveBPEL, LLC, making it the first commercial-grade BPEL technology available to the open source community.

ActiveBPEL is a Java run-time environment for executing processes based on BPEL4WS 1.1 (BPEL for Web Services), the latest version of a specification designed by Microsoft , IBM , BEA Systems and Siebel Systems. The software vendors are shepherding the spec through e-business standards body OASIS.

With ActiveBPEL, BPEL 1.1 process definitions can be deployed to the engine via file-based descriptors. The engine boasts automation features, such as static analysis, process persistence and process versioning.

Active Endpoints has submitted the source code for ActiveBPEL under the GNU General Public License (GPL), a rule created by the Free Software Foundation that allows users to share and change free software.

Active Endpoints, which competes with Intalio, FiveSight and Savvion, said in a company statement that the main goal is to accelerate the use of BPEL across the IT community. Analysts generally support such endeavors, noting that they often lead to new innovation and industry growth.

But Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst of SOA research firm ZapThink, said that, while spreading more awareness of process-driven services is a great objective, he is not sure that open source is quite the vehicle that will convince companies to implement BPEL.

"The primary challenge with process-driven SOA adoption is not the price or complexity of the tools, but the lack of best practices and knowledge of how to implement process-driven services," Schmelzer told internetnews.com.

Still, Schmelzer said it couldn't hurt to have BPEL tools to play with for extending software service models.

"Providing open source BPEL tools will make it easier for companies to experiment and learn how to take their SOA and Web services implementations to the next level of value," Schmelzer said.

ActiveBPEL will be upgraded to support future versions of the BPEL standard as those versions are released from OASIS. It may be licensed freely.

In related news, Active Endpoints Monday also released a public beta of ActiveWebflow, a suite of process management products based on BPEL and the first in a series of BPEL-related products the company plans to release in 2004.

ActiveWebflow Professional includes the ActiveBPEL engine and ActiveWebflow Designer, an Eclipse-based design environment that allows analysts to define process flows compatible with BPEL 1.1. The product allows users to compose new services-oriented processes and generate standard BPEL process definitions, as well as execute those processes.