A new industry consortium has formed to address the issue of Web services testing and interoperability, with big names such as IBM, Oracle, Cisco and Red Hat leading the way among vendors and end-user organizations such as Ford Motor Co. taking part as well.
The Web Services Test Forum launched on Dec. 8, providing an open community to improve the quality of the Web services standards, with initial membership from Active Endpoints, the Automotive Industry Association, Axway, Cisco, Eviware, Ford, Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Software AG, Teamlog and TIBCO Software. Using customer-based scenarios, interoperability is validated in a multivendor testing environment.
WSTF officials said customers and vendors alike, independent of their geographic location, can dynamically test their applications against available implementations to ensure interoperability is preserved. As an open community, WSTF has made it easy to introduce new interoperability scenarios and approve work through simple majority governance.
“IBM is a founding member of the Web Services Test Forum,” said Karla Norsworthy, vice president of software standards at IBM. “We’ve been active in implementing scenarios and maintaining IBM product endpoints as well as socializing the benefits within the community and encouraging participation.”
Moreover, Norsworthy added:
“This extends our ability to provide customers with interoperability for Web services-based scenarios. This forum provides us with a way to test for interoperability across product and specification life cycles-so that it is easy for us to verify that a new release or fix pack still interoperates with other vendor implementations. This saves us from needing to bring up copies of products from other vendors in our labs. It also provides a lightweight way to test new scenarios of interest to customers-and a forum to bring the community together to have those conversations. This will give our customers additional assurance on interoperability promises-as well as documented best practices to help them deploy service-oriented solutions in a timely way.“
WSTF officials said members plan to work closely with their customers to develop scenarios and fill a void by providing access to an open forum to test or validate applications and services.
“The Web Services Test Forum (WSTF), an open organization consisting of representatives from industry, will play a key role in accelerating interoperability for Web services standards by not waiting for Web services standards to be approved before initiating testing based on customer scenarios,” said Dan Toth, manager of Enterprise Architecture at Ford, in a statement. “It is very important that interoperability issues be identified as early as possible in order to eliminate obstacles to adopting Web services.”
Testing in an Open Environment
Members can test their product implementations against other members’ in an open environment. Providing access to continuously available services minimizes the need for each vendor or customer to set up multivendor test environments in-house, WSTF officials said. This testing is intended to help organizations deliver higher quality products and open standards specifications, simplifying integration and improving interoperability for customers in heterogeneous environments.
“The WSTF is a community-driven initiative, in some ways a successor to the early SoapBuilders work,” said Steve Harris, senior vice president of the Java Platform Group at Oracle. “What Oracle brings to the table is hosted endpoints and hands-on work with the participants in driving the public and emerging scenarios. Given Oracle Fusion Middleware’s hot-pluggable strategy, which supports multiple application servers and component technologies, Oracle benefits from easier access to multiple vendors and from the shared knowledge in supporting real-world scenarios and best practices.”
Sonal Rajan, senior marketing manager at Active Endpoints, said his company has been involved since WSTF’s inception. “We felt it was important to do so, given the role that orchestration plays in our customers’ multivendor SOA [service-oriented architecture] infrastructure. Interoperability as a result is key for us. Through the WS-I 1.1 Basic Profile [Web Services Interoperability Organization], interoperability has helped the industry significantly; the proof is in demonstrating interoperability and developing best practices. To date, we’ve developed client and service implementations for each of the scenarios currently under test. And we’ve continued with the rest of the team in the development and testing of others. ActiveVOS is used as the implementation of both, and as such we use it as a service consumer and a provider.”
Rajan added, “For Active Endpoints, WSTF represents an efficient way to carry out broad multivendor testing and integration.”
The AIAG is the first industry association member of the WSTF. The AIAG joined WSTF to improve interoperability capability within the automotive messaging infrastructure, AIAG officials said.
“AIAG’s members operate with a complex set of inter-related processes, executing both internally and connecting externally to their partners. Interoperability is a critical success factor for the automotive messaging infrastructure,” said Tim Fowler, director of supply chain and e-commerce at AIAG. “AIAG sees WSTF as the forum in which we can quickly validate interoperability requirements against a multivendor environment and translate the results into concrete plans for the continual improvement of the automotive messaging capability.”
Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink, said he wonders why the WS-I wasn’t enough. Said Schmelzer:
“In some ways the efforts of the WSTF is redundant with the efforts of the WS-I, but then again, the WS-I hasn’t been doing much in the past few years. In fact, it’s pretty notable how absent the WS-I has been from SOA efforts in the past few years. The fact that we would need a new organization to focus on interoperability scenarios says much about the inability of the industry to come to any long-term agreement on these things. Also, the fact that it is always the same group of vendors rearranging the deck chairs on the interoperability question really makes one wonder whether the vendors will ever be able to champion the task of interoperability on their own. Perhaps a consortium of the largest IT buying end users should be in charge instead?“
Meanwhile, the WSTF plans to work with various standards bodies to help speed the standardization process for emerging Web services standards.
The WSTF initiative is open to all software vendors, service providers and customers interested in furthering Web services and their use throughout the industry. Members are able to recommend and initiate work on new scenarios, supporting both emerging specifications and approved standards. Interested organizations can visit www.wstf.org for more information.