Bandwidth Is Still Not Free

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-01-31 Print this article Print

Opinion: W3C recommendations pave way for efficient, resilient, more secure Web services.

Today marks the entry deadline—really, we mean it—for eWEEKs Fifth Annual Excellence Awards. Full information is available at As we prepare for the annual flood of last-minute entries, I find that eWEEK newshound Darryl Taft has pretty much written the rest of this column for me with his coverage of last weeks announcements of three new recommendations from the World Wide Web Consortium. The W3Cs XOP (XML-binary Optimized Packaging) offers developers a standard approach to incorporating binary data in XML documents with minimal storage and bandwidth requirements; W3Cs MTOM (Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism) builds on XOP to make contracts between successive SOAP nodes.
Interestingly, the announcement of the MTOM recommendation never even uses the word "security," but several observers have called attention to MTOMs support for SOAP attachments protected by WS-Security—a valuable synergy missing from earlier SOAP attachment models.
Rounding out the recommendations trio, the RRSHB (Resource Representation SOAP Header Block) invites developers to give their applications more flexibility in dealing with intermittent or variable-rate connections by making it possible for a SOAP message to include a local copy of a Web-based resource. This can speed initial processing, or stand in for the actual remote resource if a connection is inconvenient or infeasible at the time that resource access is desired. My own initial reaction to the XOP announcement was a cynical snarl of "Oh, fine, a standards-based way to wrap proprietary data formats in the Web services flag." A counterargument from BEA Systems Senior Principal Technologist and active blogger Mark Nottingham observes that anyone who wanted to do that could do it already, so that the net benefit is noteworthy and the net harm insignificant. Overall, its nice to see such a comprehensive suite of Web services refinements that actually treat bandwidth as something worth making an effort to conserve. Massive backplane expansion will likely be driven by the demands of grid computing, but personal users at the end of bandwidth-limited wireless links of variable quality will still be the more likely drivers for much of Web services volume. Continued refinement in packaging data streams will expand the usefulness of Web services in many environments. Tell me what IT resources youd like to see used more cleverly at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in Web services.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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