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Subject: Background to Workflow/Pi Paper: Response to Jon

Jon Pykr/chair WFMC said

>For the sake of clarification Howard Smith's paper is not sent on behalf
>of the WfMC or any individual associated with the WfMC - it may be
>Howard's intention to use the paper as a discussion document at the next
>joint meeting but any inference to it being WfMC policy or agreed
>statement would be incorrect.

Jon is correct. The paper is, as stated, a paper by Howard Smith
and Peter Fingar. It is Copyright CSC, and reflects our experience
in the field of BPR and BPM. The background to the paper is this:

About 18 months ago, I alerted the BPMI board to the existence of the
workflow patterns work of Wil van der Aalst. Although I am far from
convinced that the patterns expressed there are complete, in the sense
of ontology, I felt they provided a useful way to evaluate BPML/BPMS
and to help bridge the gap that existed between the understanding
on the WFMC side and the BPMI side. I recommended that 
companies implementing BPML to interact with Aalst. We did some
"back of the envelope work" to show the patterns could be supported,
and then approached him. He in fact had already started to look at
BPML. But something went wrong. He looked at the matter from the
perspective of comparing the tags in BPML against other XML process
languages, and also directly against the patterns. Of course, he got
the wrong result. He did not take into account the ability of BPMS-
based technologies, based on the Pi-C, to combine processes,
for example, modeling a workflow "activity" as a process. We tried
to explain this, but he went ahead and published. Since the answer
was wrong, and people could draw wrong conclusions, we had to do 
some more work ourselves to prove the patterns could be implemented. 
We could have just refuted Aalst's work, but that would not be credible.
So, we spent a lot of time and modelled all the patterns, in fact more
than this, we modelled them to the extent of being reusable executable
processes. We went further, and showed how a complete workflow 
engine could exist "inside the BPMS", and expressed only by BPML. 

It is this work that the paper reports on.

Of course, we would have preferred an indepedent expert, like Aalst
to show this, but in the end we had to do it ourselves. 

In parallel with this, we were also in discussion with WfMC and Jon.
Joint work was being proposed between WFMC and BPMI. One item
was to look closely at XPDL and understand the semantics to the extent
that it could be expressed in BPML, or whether there were contructs
in XPDL which required extensions to BPML. The status of this work
will be discussed in Orlando next week.  I don't want to pre-judge.
In any case, the bottom line is, CSC is finding BPMS to be very
useful as a POA over a SOA and the comments in the paper stand.

The whole idea of the paper was to announce some results, further
explain BPMI.org's direction, and enhance understanding of how
BPML technologies can be used to do things never before possible.
Experience with BPMS as it goes forward will provide more insights 
over time. It is a CSC paper, not a WFMC or BPMI paper. But of 
course, Ismael and I fully support what the paper says, from a BPMI.org 
viewpoint. From the reaction we are getting to the paper it is helping 
others understand. 

btw - we are open to receive comments and to work towards further
papers to explain this breakthrough, which began with the co-founding
group in 1999.


At 04:41 PM 11/12/2003 +0000, Jon Pyke wrote:
>For the sake of clarification Howard Smith's paper is not sent on behalf
>of the WfMC or any individual associated with the WfMC - it may be
>Howard's intention to use the paper as a discussion document at the next
>joint meeting but any inference to it being WfMC policy or agreed
>statement would be incorrect.
>Jon Pyke
>Chair WfMC
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Howard N Smith [mailto:howard.smith@ontology.org] 
>Sent: 12 November 2003 14:13
>To: wsbpel@lists.oasis-open.org
>Subject: [wsbpel] v2.1 - Workflow is just a Pi process - new paper from
>CSC, as PDF download
>This paper provides an update on the unification of WFM and BPM. It was
>written to provide 
>enhanced understanding between the WFMC and BPMI community and may also
>be helpful to 
>members of BPEL TC at OASIS. It shows how workflow patterns can be
>modelled using BPML
>and how BPMS can use BPML to implement workflow semantics. As such, it
>illustrates aspects 
>roadmap towards BPMS and the "use cases" for BPEL.
>Abstract: There is much talk today about a business process management
>(BPM) rEvolution. 
>The revolutionary part is about a new category of software known as the
>business process 
>management system (BPMS). The evolutionary part is about using the BPMS
>to exploit existing 
>business and technology assets in a way that creates new value. Along
>with any revolution 
>comes confusion. What exactly is BPM? Isn't it just workflow technology,
>which has been in 
>use for twenty years, plus Web services? Why don't we describe what is
>going on today as 
>the "new workflow rEvolution," a subtle extension of workflow systems?
>To answer these 
>questions, we explore the foundations of the workflow paradigm, and
>describe the paradigm 
>shift in technology that is needed to overcome limitations of workflow
>systems to build and 
>deploy robust business process management systemsthe kind of information
>systems that 
>businesses now demand as new sources of competitive advantage in an ever
>more uncertain 
>and complex global economy. 
>Feedback welcome.
>Howard Smith
>cell            +44 7711 594 494 (worldwide)
>home office +44 20 8660 1963
>To unsubscribe from this mailing list (and be removed from the roster of
>the OASIS TC), go to


New Book - Business Process Management: The Third Wave

Howard Smith/CSC/BPMI.org
cell +44 7711 594 494 (operates worldwide, dial UK)
office +44 20 8660 1963 

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