Software firms say interoperability is vital for web services

The speed and extent of web services adoption depends on the success of making them interoperable, according to Tom Glover, the...

The speed and extent of web services adoption depends on the success of making them interoperable, according to Tom Glover, the president and chairman of the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I).

Glover and a slew of WS-I member companies - including Microsoft, IBM Canada, Nortel Networks, NetManage Canada, Hummingbird and Cognos - last week discussed the importance of interoperable web services for the entire IT industry and how those standards should be made.

The WS-I is a group of about 160 software companies working to identify web services interoperability requirements and developing materials to address those needs.

By taking the resources within IT and working together, the WS-I hopes to create a set of standards to help everyone understand what web services look like, Glover added.

Glover highlighted the battle between the Betamax video tape versus VHS, which resulted in the market and public opting for VHS.

"This [battle] is not the model we want for web services. It’s not efficient and it costs too much. We don’t want the market penalised but we want web services to be understood," said Glover.

Phil Edholm, chief technology officer and vice-president of network architecture for Nortel Networks, said there is a great economic and productivity value in having interoperable web services and, as such, it’s critical to web Services to have the WS-I succeed.

He said the benefit of having so many companies working together to develop standards is that everyone can use the same specifications, making those standards easier to implement.

With support from the main computing environment - including core and operating system vendors, peripheral support from companies providing web services products and support from the users who will be using Web services - the technology will, eventually, grow.

"Web services are not well understood. The name is too generic and too hard to understand," Edholm said. "The market needs to become more aware of what web services are."

Warren Shiau, senior analyst with IDC, said having interoperable web services standards will create greater fluidity in IT, providing better efficiency and agility.

Shiau discussed the three different spaces, internet, extranet and intranet, where web services can be deployed. Within the intranet, he said, about 20% to 25% of users are at the stage of implementing web services, adding that as the technology moves out into the internet space, standards will become more important to ensure interoperability among users.

He added that the industry needs "wider interpreted standards", citing the examples of Soap and XML technologies which, once adopted, user adoption of both the technologies started to climb.

Last week, IBM, Microsoft and several other software companies unveiled a proposed WS-Federation specification, featuring a set of web services technologies intended to give developers a standard way of adding security capabilities to any web service they build, and simplifying identity management.

Allison Taylor writes for

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