At the Gartner Business Process Management Summit, Microsoft Corp. today announced the formation of the Microsoft Business Process Alliance (BPA), which extends the benefits of business process management (BPM) to an array of companies and offers enhanced functionality to existing Microsoft customers. The Business Process Alliance is a group of 10 industry-leading software vendors focused on making BPM solutions more broadly accessible and helping companies take advantage of BPM tools based on the Microsoft® platform. Through this alliance, a broad range of customers will benefit from a powerful set of end-to-end tools for automating and optimizing business processes. The initial members of the BPA are AmberPoint, Ascentn, IDS Scheer, Fair Isaac, Global360, InRule, Metastorm, PNMsoft, RuleBurst and SourceCode Technology Holdings Inc. Microsoft also announced enhancements to its Windows® Workflow Foundation technology in the .NET Framework 3.0, adding support for the upcoming BPEL 2.0 standard and further providing capabilities and tools for developers and independent software vendors building BPEL-enabled workflow applications.
Microsoft also announced a road map for the adoption of the BPEL 2.0 standard in Windows Workflow Foundation to help drive industry interoperability and drive greater mainstream adoption of BPEL-enabled workflow applications. Microsoft will enable further integration between Windows Workflow Foundation and its BizTalk® Server product as part of the BizTalk Server 2006 R2 release, which will be generally available in the third quarter of 2007.
The roadmap for BPEL incoporation in Workflow comes from Microsoft’s Paul Andrew:
In March 2007 Microsoft plans to release a CTP of a set of BPEL activities for Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). This will be called BPEL for Windows Workflow Foundation March CTP and the CTP release will implement the BPEL 1.1 specification. The final release of BPEL for Windows Workflow Foundation will implement the OASIS BPEL 2.0 standard and is planned for release in Q4 of calendar year 2007.
The download will be separate from the .NET Framework and it will be required for developing BPEL based workflows in Visual Studio. The same download will provide runtime operations for executing BPEL based workflows.
The next major version of BizTalk Server will be built on Windows Workflow Foundation. This was announced back when Windows Workflow Foundation was first disclosed in September 2005. BizTalk Server will be able to take advantage of these BPEL activities at that time to also allow for BPEL 2.0 support. At that time both Windows Workflow Foundation and BizTalk Server will support BPEL 2.0.
Since this isn’t completely obvious, here’s the net:
What I haven’t mentioned is the role of Windows SharePoint Services and Office SharePoint Server 2007 which are both based on Workflow. For information on that I recommend David Chappell’s document,”Microsoft and BPM: A Technology Overview,” which is available on the Microsoft BPM web site.