Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

What's WS-I Up To?

What's WS-I Up To?

Eighteen months ago, BEA, IBM, Microsoft, and a number of other companies who have invested in the future of Web services got together and formed WS-I, the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization.

In the past few months, WS-I has delivered its first batch of final material, including the Basic Profile 1.0, and supporting test tools and sample applications. This article takes a look at what the WS-I aims to do, what it's done to date, and where the organization is going.

Why WS-I?
Web services aren't being developed and standardized all at once; there's simply too much work involved (e.g., messaging, transport, description, discovery, security, reliability, and so on). Not only would this be impractical but it would also face the risk of failure in one area overshadowing the entire solution. These are some of the reasons that modularity and evolvability - the ability to revise different portions of the stack over time - are core concepts in Web services architecture.

As a result, Web services standards are designed to be as open ended and extensible as possible, so new pieces can be plugged in easily. Unfortunately, the very traits that assure the long-term success of Web services bring about a much more immediate problem: interoperability.

Because Web services are being developed by different people in different places, and because they're changing over time, there are glitches in how they fit together. Additionally, because all of the pieces are built to allow a great deal of extensibility, it's difficult to know which pieces to use.

WS-I was founded to improve interoperability by establishing profiles of Web services specifications that show people how to use them together, and to narrow down the optional extensions so that WS-I - compliant Web services can interoperate effectively and easily. It does not create standards itself, but rather guides people in the use of existing standards.

Growing Up
WS-I's first major deliverable was the Basic Profile 1.0, which was finalized in early August. BP1.0 is designed to provide a foundation for further profiling work by assuring interoperability between SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1, and UDDI 2. It also discourages the use of some optional features, like SOAP Encoding, that were judged to be the source of interoperability problems.

The Basic Profile is a step towards interoperability; it provides a basis for further refinement with other profiles that are focused on one particular function (e.g., security or reliability) or on a particular class of uses (e.g., coarse-grained business messaging or fine-grained systems-level RPC).

To accompany the Basic Profile, the Test Tools Working Group has produced a "sniffer" that is used to intercept Web services messages; an analyzer that examines them, along with their WSDL files; and a set of Test Assertions that can help verify a Web service's conformance to the Basic Profile (because of the nature of some requirements, it's difficult, if not impossible, to automatically verify all aspects of conformance).

The Sample Applications Working Group has created a variety of materials to demonstrate how Basic Profile-conformant Web services might be constructed, as well as to showcase the interoperability enabled by following WS-I profiles. Usage Scenarios document the basic patterns that profile-conformant Web services might use, while Use Cases are specific example applications that many WS-I Members have implemented to demonstrate interoperability.

For more information on all of these deliverables, see the WS-I Web site at www.ws-i.org.

Behind the scenes, the WS-I has been maturing as an organization as well. The Board has opened up several committees, including Marketing and Communications and Liaison, so that any WS-I member can participate in their work. The Liaison committee has been working to establish formal ties with a variety of organizations, including the W3C, the Open Mobile Alliance, and others.

What's Next?
WS-I is currently working to improve interoperability in a number of areas.

The Basic Profile Working Group is examining the issues involved in extending the Basic Profile with SOAP with Attachments.

The Basic Security Working Group is concentrating on improving various aspects of security, a critical requirement for functional Web services in the enterprise and beyond. According to its charter, this includes a variety of mechanisms, including SSL/TLS for transport security, S/MIME for attachments, and the output of the OASIS Web Services Security Technical Committee for message security. It is important to have multiple mechanisms because of the variety of requirements; while simple SSL is often adequate to keep prying eyes away from your SOAP messages in flight, more advanced applications require encryption of only part of the message. This allows intermediaries, for example, to understand the parts of the message that they need, without showing them other potentially sensitive data in it. XML-based security also allows security properties like encryption and digital signatures to stay with a message no matter which transport is used, and even to stay with it if it is stored (for example, in a database).

Another newer activity is the formation of a Requirements Gathering Working Group. Although it had not officially started as of this writing, this effort has caused a lot of excitement because it enables WS-I to gather business scenarios directly from end users and other organizations as input to the profiling process. We anticipate that this group will drive the future direction of WS-I, and help assure that the WS-I has participation from the broader community, rather than just the Web services vendors.

There are many rumors about which problems WS-I will attack next. At some point, a Basic Profile based on SOAP 1.2 and perhaps WSDL 1.2 will be required, but most people believe that more implementation experience is needed with these specifications before they can be profiled. Likewise, some have advocated aggressive profiling of reliability and transaction specifications, but WS-I is reluctant to do so without a well-recognized standard in these areas.

More interestingly, there has been some discussion of profiling intermediaries, one of the more potentially useful yet vaguely specified mechanisms in Web services.

Challenges
For WS-I to meet these goals, it must master a number of challenges. Foremost in most people's minds are the political dynamics of the organization. Web services is somewhat unique in that virtually every IT vendor has signed onto it as an important new technology. However, this doesn't mean that there isn't disagreement about the details of their implementation, and sometimes traditional corporate rivalries come into play as well. WS-I, as a new organization in the center of this storm, must prove that it represents the interests of the community as well as its members in a fair and transparent fashion. Several steps have been taken in this direction, but only time will show it to have fully matured.

A more concrete issue is that of certification of Web services. WS-I has chosen not to require third-party certification to use its logo, because of the high costs this would bring to users. Instead, WS-I's recommendations are best effort and advisory, relying on the community to police itself over time. Whether this approach will work relies on consumers' ability to properly judge an implementation's claims.

Finally, WS-I is focused on conformance of Web services instances (that is, a particular endpoint), rather than tools or platforms made to generate and consume them. This is because it is very difficult to describe conformance requirements for tools and platforms, and because there is still a wide variety of opinion about what is desirable in a platform. Despite this, many members strongly believe that this is an important step in proving the organization, and it seems inevitable that WS-I will ultimately move in this direction.

Getting Involved
Unlike traditional standards organizations, it's possible to get involved in WS-I and make a difference with comparatively little effort because it's an organization focused on users and requirements, rather than research and development. The input of developers, both in terms of experience gained and requirements for the future, is actively sought in the Requirements, Sample Applications, and Profile Working Groups.

More Stories By Mark Nottingham

Mark Nottingham is a principal technologist in the Office of the CTO at BEA Systems, focusing on Web and Web services standards. He is the lead editor for the WS-I Basic Profile 1.0. He also participates in the W3C XML Protocol (SOAP) Working Group, and in the past has participated in the W3C, Internet Engineering Task Force, Java Community Process and other organizations.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SkyScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SkyScale is a world-class provider of cloud-based, ultra-fast multi-GPU hardware platforms for lease to customers desiring the fastest performance available as a service anywhere in the world. SkyScale builds, configures, and manages dedicated systems strategically located in maximum-security...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...