Group Tackles Web Services Reliability

Six leading IT vendors have collaborated on a new reliable messaging standard for Web services.

Several vendors with interest in the Web services space have collaborated on a new reliable messaging standard for Web services known as WS-Reliability.

The group comprises six leading IT vendors—some of which are not among the usual suspects—that have gathered together to help the industry overcome a critical obstacle to the adoption of Web services.

The group that Thursday announced the publication of a draft Web Services Reliability, or WS-Reliability, specification consists of Fujitsu Limited, Hitachi Ltd., NEC Corp., Oracle Corp., Sonic Software Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc.

The WS-Reliability specification is focused on ensuring a reliable transport infrastructure for Web services. The specification features mechanisms for guaranteeing the delivery of messages, eliminating duplicate messages, and establishing the order of messages, officials at Oracle said.

The reliability features will come in the form of extensions to the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), the group said. The group plans to eventually turn the specification over to a standards body.

Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, Cambridge, Mass., said reliability is the third critical roadblock to Web services adoption after security and management. The "WS-Reliability specification is an obvious no-brainer," he said. This is "because developers and IT organizations wont implement any important Web services without being able to guarantee that they will be executed in a guaranteed manner."

Yet, major players in the Web services world, namely IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp., have yet to weigh in on WS-Reliability, and ZapThink analysts said it would be difficult to "guarantee" reliability without those companies onboard.

In reaction to the new specification, Bob Sutor, IBMs director of Web services technology for WebSphere software, said:

"This new spec appears to very heavily influenced by the ebXML work that IBM co-authored several years ago. We hope that the WS-Reliability spec represents an attempt to further converge ebXML into the increasingly dominant industry Web services effort. Since ebXML was published, there have been a number of improvements to the reliable messaging model. IBM eventually expects to work in a open-standards organization to ensure that Web services reliable messaging is as functional and truly reliable as it needs to be for industrial-strength Web services applications."

Microsoft officials were not available for comment prior to publication of this story.