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

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

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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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