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Application of Business Process Execution Language to Scientific Workflows

Journal Special Issue Edited
February, 2007
ISSN 1751-1461

This paper investigates the use of the Business

Process Execution Language for Web services (BPEL4WS/

BPEL) for managing scientific workflows. The complexity,

unpredictability and inter-dependency of the components in a

scientific workflow often demand great flexibility in a

workflow-language in order to support; 1) exception handling,

2) recovery from uncertain situations, 3) user interactions to

facilitate interactive steering and monitoring, 4) dynamism to

adapt to the changing environment, 5) compensation handling

to reverse the effects of previous activities that have been

abandoned, and 6) flexibility to support dynamic selection of

services at runtime and to support changing data

requirements. These requirements are illustrated with

examples taken from a real scientific workflow; the e-HTPX

project for high throughput protein crystallography. In the

context of addressing these requirements, the features of the

BPEL4WS specification are discussed, which is widely

regarded as the de-facto standard for orchestrating Web

services for business workflows. An investigation and

proposal for the use of the Web services Invocation

Framework (WSIF) [38] to extend BPEL is also provided. In

summary, by extending BPEL where necessary (in

conjunction with standard BPEL features), workflows can be

successfully adapted to fulfill all the requirements of complex

scientific workflows. built & maintained by Ashok Argent-Katwala.