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Microsoft Starts Business Process Alliance

Microsoft announced Monday the formation of what it’s dubbed the Microsoft Business Process Alliance, or BPA, an organization created to boost deployment and use of business process management tools with a focus on an emerging standard in that area. It also announced further support of that standard – called Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) – in a pending update of a key business orchestration tool.

The announcements came at the Gartner Business Process Management Summit in San Diego.

Besides Microsoft, the newly formed BPA so far consists of ten other software vendors, including AmberPoint, Ascentn, IDS Scheer, Fair Isaac, Global360, InRule, Metastorm, PNMsoft, RuleBurst, and SourceCode Technology Holdings Inc.

According to a Redmond statement, the goal of the BPA is to “extend the benefits of business process management (BPM) to an array of companies and offer enhanced functionality to existing Microsoft customers.”

Microsoft also announced enhancements to its Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), one of the technologies in the .NET Framework 3.0 that provide support for the upcoming BPEL 2.0 standard. BPEL is an XML-based Web services dialect aimed at process “orchestration.”

To date, business process management (BPM) solutions have mostly been exclusive to Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft contends. “To this end, Microsoft has founded the Business Process Alliance to deliver end-to-end tools running on the Microsoft platform and enabling simple, cost-effective BPM options for organizations of all sizes,” the company’s statement said.

As part of that effort, Microsoft also plans to provide further integration between WF and its BizTalk Server product as part of the BizTalk Server 2006 R2 release, which the company said will be generally available in the third quarter of 2007.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services,, and .NET magazines. Contact him at stuartj1@mindspring.com.

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