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WS-I closes its doors. What does this mean for WS-*?

by Mark Little on Nov 11, 2010 |

The Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) has just announced that it has completed its mission and will be transitioning all further efforts to OASIS. As their recent press release states:

The release of WS-I member approved final materials for Basic Profile (BP) 1.2 and 2.0, and Reliable Secure Profile (RSP) 1.0 fulfills WS-I’s last milestone as an organization. By publishing the final three profiles, WS-I marks the completion of its work. Stewardship over WS-I’s assets, operations and mission will transition to OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), a group of technology vendors and customers that drive development and adoption of open standards.

Now at any other time this kind of statement from a standards organization might pass without much comment. However, with the rise of REST, a range of non-WS approaches to SOA and the fact that most of the WS-* standards have not been covered by WS-I, is this a reflection of the new position Web Services finds itself in, over a decade after it began? Perhaps this was inevitable given that the over the past few years there has been a lot more emphasis on interoperability within the various WS-* working groups? Or are the days of interactions across heterogeneous SOAP implementations in the past?

Now it is true that the output of the WS-I to date, such as the Basic Profile , have been used by the usual suspects in the Web Services space; but much of this dates back several years, with no movement further up the WS-* stack to specifications such as WS-Atomic Transaction, WS-BPEL etc. So when Laurent Liscia of OASIS says ...

"WS-I’s significant contribution to Web services interoperability will continue to play a vital role in the future of IT, especially with regard to cloud computing, where safe and reliable access to information is a requirement. As WS-I completes its transition to OASIS, we look forward not only to safeguarding their accomplishments but also to advancing their mission."

... is there more advancement to be done, or has the WS-* community, as represented by WS-I, decided that this is good enough and most heterogeneous interactions will happen through other approaches, such as REST? Of course only time will tell for sure, but it remains true that interoperability is an extremely important requirement and achieving it is no easy feat. Certainly recent activities around, for instance, the SOA Manifesto , emphasise interoperability and SOA without mandating SOAP. As Stefan Tilkov said :

Instead of integrating systems after the fact, using integration products, data transfer tools, and duct tape, SOA focuses on building services that are designed for interoperability from the very start. Integration is not an exception, it's the rule – or phrased differently, intrinsic interoperability means integration (with the meaning of "getting separate systems to interoperate") is not a necessity anymore. You won't be surprised to find out that I personally see REST and HTTP as the best possible means to achieve this … but for some reason, I did not feel I stood much of a chance to get the group to agree :-)

So the question remains: has interoperability pretty much been achieved for WS-* through WS-I and the improvements made with the way in which the specifications and standards are developed today, or has the real interoperability challenge moved elsewhere, still to be addressed?

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pragmatism by Gerald Loeffler

i think you're alluding to it in your post: interoperability is the goal - and it's irrelevant whether interoperability is achieved via mediation by a consortium like WS-I or by more ad-hoc and informal means like "plug-fests" of the implementers of webservice stacks. the latter has been a successful approach so far in the WS-* space, and i see no reason why this should change with the demise of WS-I.

That doesn't say anything about the popularity of WS-* versus REST, of course...

cheers,
gerald

www.gerald-loeffler.net

News? by Michael Burke

'... you can't help but wonder '
'the usual suspects'
' is this a significant nail in the WS-* coffin?'

I'm confused - is this a news article or an opinion piece?

Most institutions claiming to provide journalism at least make an effort to separate opinion from news - it's called the editorial, opinion pages, etc.

Am I expecting too much?

WS-I Served its Purpose by Faisal Waris

Early days of web services were pretty horrid in terms of interoperability. Without WS-I we would have never achieved what is now pretty decent (if not perfect) interoperability.

The WS* specs have stabilized now and the quality of specs has gotten better over time. Additionally, vendors have done interop workshops as needed.

Switching Schools of Though by Bob G

Hello,

It is not clear to me if the WebService vs REST debate is really relevant. If a company has 300+ WebServices, couldn’t they just be converted to RestFull Services with a Proxy and few lines of generic Xslt+Servlets code? The opposite could also be true.

The real challenge is how to model your data, not really how you can access it. So if switching from one school of though to the other is so trivial, why the fuss?

Thank you for your comments

Re: News? by Mark Little

Michael, it wasn't meant as an opinion peace as much as to generate debate about the relative merits of the WS-I in today's world of increasing adoption of other approaches. Given that I've helped author quite a few of the WS-* standards I certainly do appreciate the WS-I role and tried to keep that out of the article. Anyway, I've updated it now, so hopefully this helps. Thanks for the feedback.

Re: Switching Schools of Though by Paul Fremantle

> If a company has 300+ WebServices, couldn’t they just be converted to RestFull
> Services with a Proxy and few lines of generic Xslt+Servlets code? The opposite
> could also be true.

That isn't possible. You can switch between Messaging styles of interface (WS-*, MQ, AMQP, SMTP, POX) very easily. But REST implies a Resource model which means different verbs.

I think the real failure of WS-I was organizational. Everything was done behind closed doors with only specs and no code published. And they took forever to publish stuff, so the world moved on without them. OASIS is a much better place - its a shame this work didn't happen there in the first place.

Re: Switching Schools of Though by Mark Little

"I think the real failure of WS-I was organizational. Everything was done behind closed doors with only specs and no code published. And they took forever to publish stuff, so the world moved on without them. OASIS is a much better place - its a shame this work didn't happen there in the first place."

Couldn't agree more. I do believe that a lot of what the WS-I set out to do has been taken on by the individual technical committees and they've been able to churn out the results of this much faster. Plus we (they) have been using interoperability fests to drive these results through W3C and OASIS, so a lot of real-world experience is behind them.

Re: News? by Gerald Loeffler

Most institutions claiming to provide journalism at least make an effort to separate opinion from news - it's called the editorial, opinion pages, etc.
Am I expecting too much?


this is not a newspaper and so the rules of traditional journalism need not apply here. i find it easy enough to differentiate between different shades of objectivity and subjectivity in this text, so i don't see the problem you seem to be having with this post. i don't think you are expecting "too much" but you are expecting a discoursive style that need not apply in this context.

cheers,
gerald

www.gerald-loeffler.net

REST in peace by Adam Nemeth

REST in peace, WS-I :)

Some of their ideas would need to be converted to the simpler HTTP solutions (remember, REST is only the other end of non-sense crazyness, reality is between the two) without all the XML-ish fluff... Then we arrived to the Canaan of web services.

Re: News? by Faisal Waris

The enterprise I consult with has mandadated WS-I Basic Security profile for exchanging messages with 10,000+ partners across the globe. WS-I gave us the confidence to use this approach and we are seeing pretty good interoperability across the various stacks.

To secure the messages over the public internet we are using the x509 profile of WS-Security for signing and encryption.

To do the above with plain HTTP (in a RESTish manner) would have meant writing our own spec - which would have been impractical.

REST has its usefulness, no doubt but so do SOAP and WS-I profiles.

Basic Profile 1.2 and 2.0 are final by Simon S.

I find it particularly sad that on InfoQ the focus is on the demise of WS-I, and not the fact that the long awaited BP 1.2 and 2.0 are finally final.

Re: Basic Profile 1.2 and 2.0 are final by William Martinez

I find it particularly sad that on InfoQ the focus is on the demise of WS-I, and not the fact that the long awaited BP 1.2 and 2.0 are finally final.

Totally +1.

Re: Basic Profile 1.2 and 2.0 are final by Floyd Marinescu

I find it particularly sad that on InfoQ the focus is on the demise of WS-I, and not the fact that the long awaited BP 1.2 and 2.0 are finally final.
Hi Simon, as you may be aware, InfoQ's editorial model revolves around in-the-field practitioners like yourself who write news on current events for us part time. Editors self-select stories they find interesting, and that's one of the reasons why the site works, because they are the target audience.

It sounds like you would make a good editor since you're seeing a potential story that didn't get covered. Perhaps you'd like to hear more about joining? If so, email me at floyd at c4media.com. :) your first post coudl be about BP 1.2 and 2.0. :)

Floyd

Floyd

Re: Basic Profile 1.2 and 2.0 are final by Simon S.


It sounds like you would make a good editor since you're seeing a potential story that didn't get covered. Perhaps you'd like to hear more about joining? If so, email me at floyd at c4media.com. :)

Hi Floyd,

even if you have a smiley in that sentence I take you seriously. I would love to write about relevant topics that interest me on InfoQ. What is your publishing policy? How does it work?

Re: News? by Tarek M. Nabil

Faisal,

Can all your 10,000 partners afford to build SOAP web services and host them in secure data centers?

In my experience, this kind of endeavor can be quite expensive and few businesses can afford it. I’m not sure which domain you’re in, but maybe your partners are all large organizations with decent IT budgets.

What I like about the REST approach is that it’s mostly pull-based and hence does not require all participants to expose their own services.

Tarek Nabil

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