Panel Lauds WS-I Basic Profile

Web services can help users save time, money and effort, users said.

BOSTON—Despite the politics and competing standards in the space, Web services can help users save time, money and effort, users said.

In a panel on Web services interoperability, Bill Stangel, senior vice president and enterprise architect at Fidelity Investments in Boston, said the Web Services Interoperability Organizations Basic Profile, announced Tuesday, helps enterprises save time, money and effort.

Speaking at the XML Web Services One conference here, Stangel said the WS-I Basic Profile provides a "standard interpretation" of various Web services technologies, "which is very beneficial to us… It helps our bottom line, and it helps us build applications faster because we dont have to build a whole slew of prototypes."

Marc Breissinger, vice president and chief architect at webMethods Inc., Fairfax, Va., said the WS-I Basic Profile means lower costs for developers like webMethods "because we dont have to spend all our time debugging or doing point to point solutions."

Breissinger added that one of the most fundamental deliveries from the WS-I is the elimination of too many choices. "One of the problems with standards is they start out pretty general, and one of the worst things you can have in a standard is a choice because every vendor will exercise that choice." But the WS-I Basic Profile provides a list of requirements. Integrating standards like WS-I does "provides peace of mind; you know youre getting things that interoperate," he said.

Stangel said Fidelity became an early adopter of Web services as a way to get ahead in its business environment.

Jacques Durand, director of industry relations and standards at Fujitsu Software, said conformance is the first step toward interoperability. Durands group within WS-I is responsible for developing the tools to test conformance.

Rob Cheng, a senior product manager at Oracle Corp., said "its going to get a little interesting in the next few weeks as companies start claiming conformance" to the basic profile.

However, "the key is not about what code the WS-I produces, but more about how they influence other parts of the industry," Stangel said. "It starts you off with a place to work from, versus five years ago… For us, just the start saves us six months of research and development time."

Yet, the road is not totally smooth. "Theres a lot of churn in the standards space in terms of the stack," Breissinger said. "There are competing initiatives, and WS-I is looking at that."

Cheng said WS-I "is an integrator or implementer of standards, but we dont want to produce standards and we dont want to be in the role of picking the winners in this space."

Added Cheng: "Every vendor in WS-I would love for their particular technology to become the standard—whether de facto or whatever—no vendor is so benevolent to want to help everybody. Honestly, its political…"

Breissinger said WS-Is challenge is to "handle the churn and competition in the standards space…and stay agile and quick to handle the changes and make changes to the profile." He said the organization is "where everybody can get together and meet and have pragmatic discussions" about standards.