XML Web Services: Means to an End

Don Box, an architect in Microsoft's developer division, sees XML Web services as a means to an end.

BOSTON—For the second day in a row at the XML Web Services One conference here, a keynote speaker got up and signaled the impending end to the Web services era, at least on a standards level.

Don Box, an architect in Microsoft Corp.s developer division told an audience of Web services conference attendees Wednesday: "The end of the XML Web services era is near. I predict two years from now we wont have this conference."

Box said XML Web services are a means to an end. "We have to get the plumbing sorted out," he said. "We have a couple more years of plumbing work, but after that we move on to applications," he said. Box said the "protocol work is starting to wind down, the infrastructure is catching up with protocols and its time to start thinking about applications."

On Tuesday at the conference, Robert Sutor, director of e-business standards strategy, said he believes the industry has about another six-to-nine months of Web services standardization work to do and then another couple of years to focus on applications and implementing the standards.

Box said Microsoft has been "moving awfully fast" with its Global XML Architecture (GXA) for Web services. "We cant rev [revise] the .Net Framework fast enough to keep up with the innovation in GXA." Box cited an interoperability demonstration between IBM and Microsoft here at the conference as evidence that the technology is constantly improving.

But, Box posed the question of why Microsoft is pursuing a Web services strategy. "Because we hit the wall with the prior technology," he said. He said Microsofts COM (Component Object Model) and DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) hit the wall. "On the XML front we needed a replacement for DCOM, so XML Web services is the way we went. Microsoft has bet the company on this thing and it is our intention to make all software integration based on Web services."

In addition, he said, some of the Web services standards are mature and need to be finalized. He said the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) 1.3 is a bad idea because the specification covers all the necessary functionality for a SOAP implementation. "SOAP 1.2 should be the end of the line," he said.

Box also said Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) is the technology of the future, but that may change in 2003. Microsoft is shipping UDDI as part of its operating system, Box said.

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