OASIS Aims to Conquer Web Services Issue

By Clint Boulton

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Continuing to spur the momentum of Web services in all facets of computing, Boston's OASIS said Monday it plans create a standard way of using Web services architecture and technology to manage distributed resources, such as grid and on-demand computing.

The new OASIS Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) Technical Committee was also created as a way to bridge the gap between OASIS and other standards organizations such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Services Architecture Working Group and the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).

This is crucial because standards groups, despite trying to create something open for all to use, often come up with disparate methodologies to make technology work. This can lead to dissent and rivalry amid the organizations, which often leads to companies making a choice between two or more methodologies and aligning themselves with one particular group.

For example, Sun Microsystems, who spearheads the Liberty Project, was at loggerheads with Microsoft and IBM over its status in the Web Services Interoperability consortium. Sun ultimately joined after being granted chair status.

To be sure, initial members of the WSDM group include a number of collaborators who double as competitors in the Web services niche, including Actional, BMC Software, Computer Associates, Confluent Software, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Novell, OpenNetwork, SeeBeyond, Sun Microsystems, Waveset, webMethods and others.

Monday's announcement shows the willingness of the standards bodies to work together to improve the lucrative Web services arena.

Winston Bumpus of Novell, co-chair of the OASIS WSDM Technical Committee, summed up the purpose of designating such a committee.

"As the number of Web services deployed across the extended enterprise increases, the ability to effectively manage those services will become critical to building out a comprehensive services-oriented architecture," Bumpus said. "By collaborating with other ongoing industry standards activities in this area, this new technical committee will play a important role in defining how services should be managed."

Ideally, the new WSDM group would benefit business integrators who use Web services, management system vendors, and Web service platform vendors.

"Management is a key component in the Web services stack, and the ability to manage Web services between enterprises and across disparate computing platforms is critical," said Heather Kreger of IBM.

Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with XML and Web services research firm ZapThink, agreed with Kreger that management is an important part of Web services, noting that after security, it is the strongest barrier to adoption. However, he noted that many in the group already have such solutions.

"The traction these companies are already seeing begs the question of whether we need a Web Services management standard at all, or should we leave the details up to the implementation of each vendor," Bloomberg said.

"As a result, the OASIS WSDM standard will be most useful in the business-to-business environment, where trusted business partners involved in Service-oriented transactions will want the ability to manage each other's Web Services, to insure that service levels are being met. There will be some application of the WSDM standard internal to the enterprise, especially when different divisions use different Web Services management approaches, but this standard will find its niche in trading communities and other B2B situations."