Why Wait for WS-I Profile?

Panel: existing Web tools still useful.

The Web services-interoperability organization is working toward a basic profile for the interoperability of Web services, but customers dont necessarily have to wait or overlook the tools that are available today.

At Microsoft Corp.s Tech Ed conference here last week, a panel of experts discussed the WS-Is Basic Profile Version 1.0. The Profile will enable developers to have a common framework for developing Web services. The Profile will contain open specifications to promote interoperability of Web services applications. Panelists debated the merits of waiting until the Profile is fully approved.

Yasser Shohoud, a program manager on Microsofts XML Messaging team, said he does not know when the industry will see a basic profile from WS-I, but it should not matter. "I dont know [when the WS-I Basic Profile will be ready], but does it matter?" Shohoud asked a panel. "I think the world should not wait for that. The bottom line is when youre trying to interoperate, you have tools that need to work together."

However, there are few tools that support the broad spectrum of interoperability issues.

In the interim, while a WS-I Basic Profile is being hashed out, "people should avoid things in the basic profile that are not widely used," Shohoud said. "If you are ready to build Web services today, you should not be waiting for any profile."

Playing devils advocate in the panel session was Don Box, a lead XML architect at Microsoft and a Web services expert, who asked Shohoud how long it would take the world to shift to SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) 1.2.

WS-I Basic Profile 1.0

  • SOAP 1.1
  • Web Services Description Language 1.1
  • Universal Description, Discovery and Integration 2.0
  • XML 1.0 (Second Edition)
  • XML Schema Part 1: Structures
  • XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes
  • RFC2246: TLS (Transport Layer Security) Version 1.0
  • RFC2459: Internet X.509 Public Key Infrastructure Certificate and Common Language Runtime Profile
  • RFC2616: HTTP 1.1
  • RFC2818: HTTP over TLS
  • RFC2965: HTTP State Management Mechanism
  • Secure Sockets Layer Version 3.0
"Whats the compelling reason to switch?" Shohoud asked. "Do you care as a customer? Does it really matter to you? I think not. I wonder if customers will be out there pounding on the door asking for SOAP 1.2. Id do it when I buy a platform that does that [switches from SOAP 1.1 to 1.2] for me. The real question is, When will platform vendors ship [products that support the shift]?"

Clemens Vasters, CEO of Newtelligence AG, of Korschenbroich, Germany, who also spoke during the session, said, "Weve been fighting the war against CORBA [Common Object Request Broker Architecture], but if you look at .Net Remoting and look at CORBA, theyre like the same thing. So all COM [Component Object Model] people should stand up and say, Hey, .Net Remoting is wrong, but theyre not."

Vasters was referring to the long-running battle between Microsoft and the Object Management Group, which oversees the CORBA specification. While the COM- versus-CORBA debate has gone on for years, Microsoft has recently shown signs of warming to the OMG, sponsoring two OMG Web services events (see eWEEK, May 12, Microsoft Courting OMG Again).

Steve Swartz, a Microsoft architect working on .Net Remoting and a former COM aficionado, said, "COM will live as long as Windows lives." Swartz said Microsofts Windows developers are porting a lot of COM into Windows, namely the upcoming "Longhorn" version of the operating system.

"When we stop getting physically bigger, we do not die," Swartz said. "COM is a grown-up now."

Box said, "XML and .Net are like the hair on your head; COM is like eyebrow hair."