Web Services Leaders Submit Key Messaging Spec

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-08-10
 
 
 
A group of leading Web services proponents, including Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, on Tuesday announced the joint submission of a key Web services specification to a major standards body.

BEA Systems Inc., IBM, Microsoft Corp., SAP AG and Sun Microsystems Inc. announced the submission of the latest version of the WS-Addressing specification to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), said Ed Julson, director of Web services at Sun.

Julson said the submission of WS-Addressing to the W3C means that this effort will merge with the WS-MessageDelivery specification effort, which covers much of the same functionality as the WS-Addressing specification.

Sun supported the WS-MessageDelivery specification, along with others including Iona Technologies Inc., Nokia Corp., Oracle Corp. and more. The companies announced the specification last April.

"Theres going to be a lot of work to drive convergence of the two major spec sets," Julson said. He said the WS-MessageDelivery specification is a more recent effort, while the WS-Addressing "work has been under way for quite a while … and its a natural opportunity to take these two pieces of work and ensure a specification for interoperability."

WS-Addressing helps enable organizations to build reliable and interoperable Web services applications by defining a standard mechanism for identifying and exchanging Web services messages between multiple end points, the companies said. IBM, BEA and Microsoft were already involved with WS-Addressing, while Sun and SAP joined the effort more recently, Julson said.

WS-MessageDelivery is a specification aimed to make it easier to build complex applications using Web services by standardizing the way Web services end points are referenced when multiple Web services are engaged in common message exchange patterns, according to documentation about the specification. The specification is designed to facilitate the patterns outlined in WSDL (Web Services Description Language).

"This is tremendous news," said Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at Waltham, Mass.-based Iona. "This appears to represent a real turning point in the difficulties over Web services specifications IP [intellectual property] rights. All of the submitters have agreed to assign their copyrights on the spec to the W3C, and to provide royalty-free licenses to under the W3Cs strict IP policy to implementers.

"A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes for several months to make this happen," Newcomer said. "One of the factors was the WS-MessageDelivery specification that Iona and others submitted to the W3C. I think it really spurred a lot of careful thought and made IBM, Microsoft and BEA face some hard choices with respect to how they wanted to progress WS-Addressing."

Microsoft and others released a specification called WS-Discovery that aims to help provide Web services interoperability and support for occasionally connected devices and systems. Click here to read more.

Moreover, the WS-Addressing specification represents a milestone in that Sun and Microsoft have teamed to support the specification, particularly after Sun had backed a competing one.

"This joint work on WS-Addressing is a natural progression in our partnership with Sun, and we anticipate further collaboration of our Web services efforts moving forward," said Dave Mendlen, director of Web services technical strategy at Microsoft. "We look forward to greater cooperation in other areas of the relationship as well."

Click here to see what technology providers and consultants think about where Web services are going.

Ionas Newcomer added: "We had heard since WS-MessageDelivery was submitted to W3C that IBM, Microsoft and BEA had agreed to submit WS-Addressing to W3C before September. They not only made good on their word, they also added Sun and SAP to the list of submitters, which gives the submission very broad endorsement indeed.

"We are looking forward to participating in the addressing working group, which we anticipate will start in September or October after the charter is discussed in the W3C e-mail list," Newcomer said.

Julson said the group of submitters intends "to form a working group to standardize a single messaging standard."

Karla Norsworthy, director of e-business technology at IBM, said WS-Addressing is important ensure that other key Web services specifications dont have to implement their own methods for addressing Web services messages.

"Its good to see that Sun, Microsoft, IBM, SAP and BEA are all backing the same proposal," said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC. "Thats definitely a significant shift from the detente of the past, where it seemed that some of the above vendors were always on the other side of the spec issue.

"Seems like Sun in particular has turned the corner," Schmelzer said. "Perhaps there then is some light at the end of the tunnel with respect to a few other key specifications, like the process specs [BPEL—Business Process Execution Language], federated identity specs [Liberty Alliance], and the reliability and event/notification specifications."

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