Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Manage end-to-end processes - don't argue about standards

On the Go Flow blog, Keith Swenson rekindles the debate about the success of XPDL, and obviously draws some comparisons/distinctions with BPEL. In my view both standards have their place, and vendors should avoid trying to quash the one they don't support because their process engine or modeling tool has different objectives its trying to meet. As Keith says:
The biggest misperception in the marketplace is that BPEL and XPDL are in some kind of a war. I have already covered elsewhere how this is silly, so I won’t duplicate it here. I think Jon Pyke’s response makes it clear how these very different standards serve very different purposes.
I put my own (rather lengthy) thoughts into a comment on Go Flow. The key point of my argument is here as well:

XPDL and BPEL have separate objectives and they will overlap at times. At these times it may be better for the organization implementing human and systems BPM to look at ways of pragmatically handling end-to-end processes. Managing the 'federation' of processes, rather than trying to shoehorn everything into a ‘standard’ optimized for different objectives, seems to be the best way to go. End-to-end processes exist all across an organization, and at this point most organizations seem to struggle with gaining even the slightest visibility into what is going on, let alone attempt to model and execute that process within a process modeling or execution language.

Easier said than done? Maybe - but 'process federation' is a real concept that can be attacked from several different directions. Global 360 (my employer) does this with end-to-end process analytics and optimization. There are other approaches that customer can employ that further improve the visibility and manageability of end-to-end processes that cross the systems and human realms.

By the way, don't forget to add your comments to the discussion on Go Flow.

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