Spec Unifies Web Services

A group of vendors announced a new Web services specification called Web Services-Composite Application Framework.

A group of vendors, including Iona Technologies PLC., Arjuna Technologies Ltd., Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., last week announced a new Web services specification called Web Services-Composite Application Framework that is aimed at solving the problem of coordinating multiple Web services.

Eric Newcomer, co-author of the specification and chief technology officer at Iona, in Waltham, Mass., said WS- CAF consists of three specifications: Web Service-Context, Web Service- Coordination Framework and Web Service-Transaction Management.

WS-CAF deals with handling transaction processing in a Web services environment by defining a multilevel framework for coordinating business processes across a variety of transaction processing models and architectures, such as those from IBM, said Newcomer, who added that he and Mark Little, a co-founder of Arjuna, in Newcastle, England, started the initial work on WS-CAF two years ago.

"The specs are in the transaction area, which is one of the last unresolved areas in Web services," Newcomer said. "This is a new transaction model for business process automation that nobodys done before."

Newcomer said the vendors are looking to donate the WS-CAF specification to a standards body under a royalty-free license. "We expect to go to a standards committee at some point, but wed really like to get into a discussion with IBM and Microsoft [Corp.] along the way to get their acceptance of the work," he said.

About a year ago, Microsoft and IBM published specifications that provide similar functionality: Web Service-Coordination and Web Service- Transaction.

Meanwhile, Oracle and Sun have reviewed the WS-CAF specification and provided technical support and marketing support, said officials from both companies.

"Whats needed is for these vendors to all work together to solve common, big issues, not to create a whole onslaught of specifications, each of which solves one particular part of an overall puzzle," said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Cambridge, Mass., market research company.

"The result will be a mass of confusing, and probably noninteroperable, specifications," Schmelzer said. "At some point, these are all going to need to be tied together, anyway, so why wait for the customer or the WS-I [Web Services Interoperability Organization] to do it?"

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