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What is BPEL?

By David White
Updated May 16, 2024
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With the prevalence of the Internet in communications these days, it seems only natural that businesses would use Internet protocols to conduct their everyday and not-so-everyday business. After all, the Net can be conducive to rapid transfer of data and can eliminate geography from the communication equation. Many businesses elect to do most of their work via some form of Internet connection, but it's not just 0s and 1s that help businesses. It's a combination of letters and numbers that results in yet another Internet-related acronym, BPEL.

BPEL stands for Business Process Execution Language. Like EAI, BPEL is an XML-based language, but BPEL is more specific and targeted. Specifically, a programmer uses BPEL to join sometimes disparate functions into an integrated process, resulting in a seamless use of the Internet to conduct business transactions ranging from simple money exchanges to complex calculations and asset reallocation.

Unlike some other programming languages, BPEL has been created by a number of people working for a number of companies, among them Adobe, Avaya, BEA, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, NEC, Novell, Oracle, and SAP. IBM and Microsoft got the ball rolling in a big way with IBM's Web Services Flow Language and Microsoft's Xlang back in 2002. Since then, it's been full steam ahead.

All this might sound like it's describing huge business operations. That is the case, but it is also true that BPEL can be used to facilitate smaller operations for smaller businesses. For every Merrill Lynch executing millions of trades every day, there is a Pat Connors Investing performing just 10 trades a day. For every Orbitz or Expedia processing thousands of travel details every day, there is a Karen Seaberg Travel Company making arrangements for just three clients a day.

In other words, it's not just the big boys and girls who get to have all the fun utilizing the incredible functionality of BPEL. That's the beauty of it, according to several of its developers: It's incredibly flexible and incredibly powerful, while simultaneously offering incredibly easy-to-use end user processes in scope both large and small.

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Discussion Comments

By artirejin — On Nov 19, 2008

What is the difference between BPML and BPEL? How the usage of these can be different?

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