WS-I releases web services interoperability plan

The Web Services Interoperability Organisation (WS-I) yesterday released its Basic Profile 1.0 document, said to be the Holy...

The Web Services Interoperability Organisation (WS-I) yesterday released its Basic Profile 1.0 document, said to be the Holy Grail of low-cost, easy interoperability for data and applications.

Basic Profile 1.0, approved unanimously on 22 July by the 11-member WS-I board of directors and by approximately 150 member organisations earlier this month, includes implementation guidelines on using core web services specifications together to develop interoperable web services. Those specifications include Soap 1.1, WSDL 1.1, UDDI 2.0, XML 1.0, and XML Schema. 

The availability of Basic Profile 1.0 sets the stage for unified web services support in technologies such as the next major version of the enterprise Java specification, J2EE 1.4, and the upcoming upgrade of IBM's Websphere Studio development environment. Version 1.0 of the profile is intended to provide a common framework for implementing interoperable solutions while giving buyers a common reference point for purchasing decisions, according to WS-I. 

"What the importance of this is, is that without these guidelines, there are enough ambiguities in the way you can implement these standards that web services built by different companies, or on different platforms, will not be interoperable with each other," said Andy Astor, a member of the WS-I board of directors and chairman of marketing and communications at webMethods. 

The profile features a set of guidelines resolving more than 200 interoperability issues, Astor said. Following release of the profile, WS-I this autumn plans to release testing tools to verify conformance with the profile and sample applications to demonstrate use. Test tools will be available in both C# and Java implementations. With the release of the tools WS-I will also announce how web services software suppliers and service providers can claim conformance of their products to Basic Profile 1.0. 

Future web services profiles are expected to add functionality such as security, via the Basic Security Profile, and web services attachments capabilities through use of Soap with Attachments technology, said Mark Hapner, WS-I board member from Sun Microsystems and Web services strategist for Java at Sun. 

Sun has been awaiting the release of the Basic Profile so it can include it in J2EE 1.4. Sun now plans to release J2EE 1.4 which is to feature web services enablement, in the fourth quarter of this year, Hapner said. 

IBM, meanwhile, plans to add support for the profile in Version 5.1.1 of the Websphere Studio development environment when it is released later this month, said IBM spokesman Scott Cook. 

Webmethods plans to add support for Basic Profile 1.0 to its integration platform, Astor said.

Some suppliers have already supported the profile, based on details released about it. A working draft was released by WS-I in October 2002. 

Microsoft said it supports Basic Profile 1.0 in technologies such as its Visual Studio .net development environment and .net Framework. "Microsoft applauds the ratification of the Basic Profile 1.0 and sees it as a significant milestone, taking the industry a step closer to ensuring web services are able to interoperate across heterogeneous systems," said Microsoft's Steven VanRoekel, director of Web services. 

Web services management software supplier Actional also said it already supports the profile. "The response [to the Basic Profile] from a customer perspective has been very positive," said James Phillips, Actional senior vice-president. "We've had customers specifically ask if we support Basic Profile 1.0 or plan to if it is made public." 

Mindreef yesterday announced that its new Soapscope 2.0 Web services diagnostics system includes WSDL interoperability checking based on Basic Profile 1.0. 

An analyst stressed that the profile represents the first deliverable from WS-I. "Until now, [the profile has] has been theory and works in progress, but now they have the profile available," said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink. Bloomberg said the profile at this point is primarily for suppliers to make their offerings interoperable. WS-I needs to add more user organisations to its fold, he said. 

Affirmation of the profile unites bitter rivals IBM, Microsoft, and Sun, all of which hold board seats, although Sun had to be elected to a seat in March while IBM and Microsoft were charter board members dating back to WS-I's formation in February 2002. 

WS-I is not a standards body like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) or Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards. It merely takes standards from organisations such as these and develops interoperability and usage profiles.

Paul Krill writes for InfoWorld

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