Sunday, May 06, 2007

Human Tasks and Workflow

For a long time Oracle had a product called Oracle Workflow. This product (version 2..6.x) is a work flow product that was based on PL/SQL. It had it own GUI tool to develop and deploy work flow definitions. It is still be used in the Oracle E-Business Suite and some customers are using it in their applications.

Since Oracle has its own SOA product, there was an overlap on work flow functionality. In the statement of direction (SOD) Oracle explains that the Oracle BPEL will take over this functionality. This sounds strange why BPEL can take over workflow.

A few years ago, I was involved in projects based on Oracle Workflow. When I was looking into BPEL to find similarities with Oracle Workflow, if found out BPEL was just the right work flow tool, it covers all the functions I needed. Looking back now, when I doing only SOA related projects, it looks strange, from a SOA perspective, to see BPEL as a work flow product. But these two views can co-exists along this product. This is big advantage. Two worlds, SOA and Workflow, comes together in this product.

Projects that are completed related to SOA can be implemented for BPEL/ESB. But this also applies to projects that are completely based on work flow, including human-work flow. The functionality offered by Oracle SOA/BPEL covers almost all the functions the user requires.

For customers using Oracle Workflow and want to migrate to BPEL, for the work flow functionality, there is no migration path. A redesign of the OWF application to be taken into account.

There are a lot of advantages of the work flow functions in BPEL are:
  • The technology is based on Java/XML
  • Design en implementation is doen in JDeveloper (IDE)
  • A rich Java API exists for workflow and BPEL.
  • A default end-user application is supplied for work flow.

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