W3C Reviews Milestone WS-Policy Submission

The proposed standard is intended to promote the development of secure, reliable and transacted Web services.

A group of companies supporting Web services has submitted the WS-Policy specification to the Worldwide Web Consortium for consideration as a standard intended to promote the development of secure, reliable and transacted Web services.

The W3C acknowledged the submission of the specification on April 26.

The authors of what are essentially two specifications—WS-Policy Framework and WS-Policy Attachment—are BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Sonic Software and VeriSign.

For the submission, made to the W3C April 13, several other companies joined the authors in recommending WS-Policy to the standards body, including Adobe Systems, CA, Ericsson, Iona Technologies, Layer 7 Technologies, Nokia, Oracle, Ricoh, Systinet (a division of Mercury Interactive), Sun Microsystems, TIBCO Software, WebMethods and WS02.

A description of the WS-Policy specification on the W3C Web site reads, "Web Services Policy defines a flexible policy data model and an extensible grammar for expressing the capabilities, requirements and general characteristics of a Web Service. It also describes mechanisms for associating policies with Web service constructs. It is used to convey the conditions for an interaction between a Web service requestor and a Web service provider."

Glen Daniels, a standards strategist at Sonic Software, said, "The submission of WS-Policy to the W3C is a milestone in the advancement of Web services standards. Along with SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol], WSDL [Web Services Description Language] and WS-Addressing, WS-Policy provides the foundation upon which to build an open, extensible and composable set of standards for distributed computing.

"The spec already has a lot of implementation experience from Sonic and other vendors, and were looking forward to producing a version that can be adopted by the community as a whole. With its history of working on both interoperable protocols and semantic-oriented metadata, the W3C is the perfect place for WS-Policy to achieve its maximum potential in the coming years."

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Similarly, Karla Norsworthy, vice president of software standards at IBM, said, "The ability to describe properties of Web services in a standard fashion will enable customers to better leverage the capabilities provided by the other Web service specifications such as Security, Reliable Messaging and Transactions. Were delighted that so many other companies have joined with us on the submission and anticipate [that] the W3C will move quickly to start work on refinement of this work."

Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at Iona Technologies in Waltham, Mass., took a more skeptical view, saying that although he is happy the WS-Policy specification has been submitted to the W3C, he is concerned that it has taken so long.

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"WS-Policy is a specification set of broad significance for Web services and SOA," Newcomer said. "It is really great news that the specifications have been submitted to W3C and that the W3C is going to charter a working group… but it is unfortunate and curious that it has taken so long to get to this point.

The specifications were originally published in late 2002 and updated in 2003 and 2004, the same year that the W3C held a workshop on Web services policy—something that is typically done close to the time that work on something is expected to begin at W3C.

"In fact I had heard informally that the specifications were expected in 2005. So I really have to wonder whether the Web services specification process is starting to break down. The process was originally designed to create high-quality specifications in a short period through the dedicated work of a small number of companies, but in this case, for whatever reason, the work was not completed in a short period of time."

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