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Microsoft BizTalk Server vs. other Java-based Web service orchestration tools

How would you compare Java-based Web service orchestration companies/technologies with Microsoft's BizTalk server?

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BizTalk Server in its current form is essentially an EAI product. Like most proprietary tools in the EAI category, BizTalk is implemented in a vertically integrated fashion, where orchestration constitutes the top layer, allowing flow to be implemented based on the declarative XLANG language. However, XLANG is expected to be superceded by BPEL4WS (a hybrid specification merging concepts from XLANG and WSFL) which has been submitted in August jointly by IBM, Microsoft and BEA.

Java-based technologies for Web service orchestration take a bottom up approach, striving to expand J2EE to provide native support for asynchrony and XML messaging as well as support of higher-level layers in the Web services stack, such as BPEL4WS and WS-Transaction. The container-services/component-model design philosophy of J2EE, at its core, is better suited to allow consistent expansion of the software infrastructure to support Web service orchestration.

The Java approach will naturally lead itself to best-of-breed designs. In contrast, Microsoft's BizTalk will have to be redesigned and better integrated with Microsoft's take-it-or-leave-it .Net framework. There are indications this is already starting to happen with Microsoft's announcement of Jupiter.

This was first published in November 2002

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