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OASIS recently issued a call for participation for the OASIS WS-BPEL Extension for People (BPEL4People) Technical Committee and two specifications – BPEL4People and WS-HumanTask – published last year by SAP and other technology vendors will be contributed to OASIS.

What are benefits of this new standardization effort? The WS-BPEL 2.0 specification, which was adopted as an OASIS standard in April 2007, is primarily designed for types of processes that are automated and composed of reusable (Web) services. However, typical business processes require human involvement, e.g. to comply with some regulations it is necessary to implement the 4-eyes principle. For these kinds of business processes a more direct integration of different human interaction patterns in WS-BPEL is needed. The BPEL4People Technical Committee is chartered to address this need.

In addition, there are scenarios which do not include WS-BPEL processes but require support for human interactions. So, in order to have a unified view across human tasks involved in WS-BPEL processes and those involved in other SOA-based applications a task model independent of WS-BPEL is needed. The outcome of the BPEL4People TC will include a task model as well.

The BPEL4People white paper published by SAP and IBM summarizes these different scenarios where humans are involved and discusses important customer requirements.

Why is BPEL4People important? By unifying service-based interactions and human interactions the modeling of business processes will be simplified. Moreover, standards-based integration of human interactions within business applications will enable interoperability, with both process infrastructures used to implement business processes and task clients used by business people to perform human tasks.

It is also worth to mention that, similar to WS-BPEL, this new standardization effort will not consider a graphical notation, but is expected that existing standards, e.g. OMG BPMN, can be used and extended to support modeling of BPEL4People-like business processes.

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