An emerging rift among supporters of a proposed Web services security specification could slow the ratification of the standard and hamstring enterprises trying to settle on a way to make Web services transactions safer.
Microsoft Corp. and IBM, which, along with VeriSign Inc., published the original Web Services-Security specification, are now in two camps that have contrasting views over what should be done with the specification, also known as WS-Security.
The specification, which came under the control of OASIS, or Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, in June, defines a set of SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) message headers, which are designed to ensure Web services application integrity.
Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., and companies such as Iona Technologies Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., which are members of OASIS WS-Security Technical Committee, want to push the specification through as is. They contend it is complete enough to give users the security they need now for Web services and can be improved later.
However, officials at IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., Commerce One Inc., Entrust Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., among others—and also part of the technical committee—said they believe more needs to be added to the specification. A short list of additional features includes some form of extensions for WSDL (Web Services Description Language) that would enable developers to express how to control the level of encryption, the type of encryption and what gets encrypted. This faction is proposing a Quality of Protection working group to investigate what other additions the specification may need before being released.
"We need the ability to comprehensively control Web services security as it relates to specifying a Web service at design time using WSDL and at run-time using SOAP [and] WSDL," said Zahid Ahmed, XML Web services architect at Commerce One, in Pleasanton, Calif.
The WS-Security Technical Committee may discuss these issues in a conference call meeting this week.