WS-Security Spec Opens Door to Interoperability

Microsoft's work with Sun engineers on the WS-Security spec could indicate future interoperability between the two companies, as established in the landmark agreement between them earlier this month.

The passage of the WS-Security specification by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards last week could signal opportunities for further Web services interoperability between Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

John Shewchuk, a software architect at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., told eWEEK in an interview that Microsofts work with Sun engineers on the WS-Security spec could indicate possible future interoperability between the two companies, as established in the landmark agreement earlier this month.

OASIS approved the WS-Security specification in a 77-1 vote. WS-Security defines the core facilities for protecting the integrity and confidentiality of a message, as well as mechanisms for associating security-related claims with the message, according to the road map laid out by Microsoft, IBM and VeriSign Inc. when they authored the specification in April 2002.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., joined the WS-Security effort, along with many other companies, after Microsoft, IBM and VeriSign submitted the specification to OASIS in June 2002 and OASIS formed a WS-Security technical committee the following month.

WS-Security is a foundation technology that provides the basis for additional security specifications and enables businesses to offer secure Web services for commercial use.

"We did our first interop test of the latest spec, and we had 80 percent interoperability" among the participating companies, Shewchuk said. "The first two to get full interoperability were Microsoft and Sun. The Sun engineers were smart and easy to work with, and their stuff worked great with our code," he said.

Aspects of the Ws-Security Specification

  • WS-SOAP Message Security
  • WS-UsernameToken Profile
  • WS-X.509 Certificate Token Profile
  • WS-SecurityPolicy
  • WS-Trust
  • WS-SecureConversation
  • WS-Federation
  • WS-Federation Active Requestor Profile
  • WS-Federation Passive Requestor Profile
  • WS-Kerberos Binding

Shewchuk said Microsoft tested a version of the companys WSE (Web Services Enhancements) technology that supports WS-Security. He said he was not aware of what technology Sun used in the test, as the testing is "done in a fully anonymous way."

Shewchuk also said Microsoft "will be releasing WSE 2.0 shortly, and that will be in full compliance" with WS-Security. So not only is it news that OASIS approved WS-Security as a standard, "but youll likely see [compliant] products from Microsoft and others on the market almost overnight," he said.

In addition, Shewchuk said, "We have the federation work and the Liberty [Alliance] work, and because we all are working on this, were able to communicate" about how to proceed with the interoperability message. Passport/TrustBridge is Microsofts federation technology, while Liberty is a Sun-led technology project related to federation.

Meanwhile, OASIS announced plans to host a Symposium on Reliable Infrastructures for XML April 26-27 in New Orleans.

In a statement, Chet Ensign, director of architecture at Lexis Publishing Inc. and chair of the Program Committee of the OASIS Technical Advisory Board, said, "Today, many different technol- ogies are available that propose to increase the reliability of XML-based messaging and networking infrastructure. We define reliable to mean that implementing one or more of these technologies in an infrastructure removes some of the burden of ensuring application integrity from software programmers and architects."

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