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What is Web services orchestration?

What exactly is Web services orchestration? What are the components of the technology? Who are the market leaders? Thanks.

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Web services orchestration is "EAI for the masses", bringing the power of traditional EAI into the hands of mainstream Java developers, based on broadly supported standards and at a fraction of the cost. Orchestration serves as the platform layer in network computing that enables composition and coordination of services (the building blocks) into long-running transactions and collaborative business processes. Orchestration entails handling of four primary requirements: asynchronous interactions, flow control, business transaction management and activity monitoring. Orchestration carries the promise of cheaper, better, faster integration available to the mainstream (while current solutions remain locked into a high-end niche).

The components of an orchestration solution address the needs for development, deployment and management based on asynchronous services as the core design center. These include means for describing the interactions (choreography, e.g. based on the BPEL4WS/WS-C/WS-T set of specifications), authoring the business logic (orchestration logic), facilities for executing the interactions (orchestration server) and managing/maintaining the deployed transactions/processes (orchestration console).

Orchestration is still an early market with both platform vendors and startups aspiring to deliver on the promise of making integration affordable and available to mainstream corporate developers. Platform companies include IBM (WebSphere 5.0) and Microsoft (BizTalk 200x?). Startups include Fuego, Sonic and Collaxa among others.

This was first published in October 2002

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