TechEd Day 1: Interoperable processes, customers and suckbusters
I gave a chalk talk on "Interoperable Processes: The State of the Standards" on Monday. The purpose of this talk was to explain the differences between chorography languages like WS-CDL and orchestration languages like BPEL. In addition to explaining the various standards that are out there I also explained how we could map a choreography (peer-to-peer) model to an orchestration model (e.g. BPEL).
I ended the talk with a demo illustrating how we can talk a BPMN model and generate a BizTalk orchestration using BPEL. To do this I used a partner product called SemTalk. SemTalk is a business process design tool built on top of Visio. Using SemTalk you can develop business processes using a number of standards like BPMN, XPDL and others. I built s simple process in BPMN using SemTalk. exported to BPEL and imported the BPEL into BizTalk, creating a new orchestration. There is a video of this sort of demo on SemTalk's site here (wmv format).
The BP standards space is still evolving. BPEL appears to have broad acceptance as a standard for orchestration languages (note to self: spend some time with XPDL….) while there is no clear "winner" in the choreography space. WS-CDL, BPSS and others are available with no clear plans for adoption among the larger vendors. Given my association with BPEL I tend to focus more on orchestration issues where the process model requirements are somewhat less opaque: asynchronicity with strong support for correlations, well-defined transaction semantics and robust exception handling. Regardless of the multitude of emerging standards, standards will only be successful when they have been adopted and implemented by vendors (preferably influential vendors, regardless of size).
I spent the rest of the day as a "booth babe", meeting with customers and talking about their workflow and BPM challenges. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be.
On a completely separate topic, I finally met David Platt (aka the .NET Professor). David teaches .NET classes at Harvard and is a fun guy to hang out with. He's got some keen (bombastic?) insights and opinions on the software industry. Make sure you introduce yourself to him if you see him at a conference or have a chance to attend one of his seminars. David is a brilliant guy with a great sense of humor. How great? Well, his forthcoming book is titled "Why Software Sucks (and What You Can Do About It)". The site for the book is not yet live but what little content is there gives you a feel for what to expect from the book. I can't wait to read it.