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Taking Web services in stride

A reader says he knows the practical problems inherent in Web services implementation, and it's too early to count the chickens before they hatch.


Taking Web services in stride

In response to the March 21 Perspectives column by Ravi Razdan, "Web services: Security nightmare?":

I couldn't agree with Razdan more. I represented UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration)/Web services standards for a Fortune 100 company for a year, and I know the practical problems inherent in Web services implementation.

First, there are no sample business registrations at the service-offering level (called green pages) in UDDI yet. Most registrations are white- and yellow-page level. Second, security is a neglected aspect of Web services. There is no true interoperability in Web services yet, because propagating security context and transaction context across Web services is only a dream today. In addition, secure and reliable messaging is not an agreed-upon standard among ebXML, RosettaNet and W3C standards bodies, and many flavors are possible, which leads to confusion.

Most people think that SOAP solves interoperability problems. It doesn't. Interoperability is about contextual propagation of transaction, security, semantics and so on. SOAP is just a messaging protocol in XML-RPC flavor providing communication across heterogeneous systems.

Web services also do not address the "connect and transact" phase of service-to-service interactions. It is today only about registering and discovering Web services. The last mile--connect and transact--is a big step and is loaded with challenges. So let us not count the chickens so soon.

Ravi Balakrishnan
Sunnyvale, Calif.



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