Culture

IBM proposes Web services spec

Big Blue and several other companies are backing two specifications for tracking events in Web services applications, bypassing a similar effort from Microsoft.

IBM and several other companies proposed two specifications for tracking events in Web services applications, bypassing a similar effort introduced by Microsoft two weeks ago.

The goal of the new specifications, called WS-Notifications and WS-Resource Framework, is to provide a standards-based way to program business applications to automatically respond to events such as a drop in inventory level or hardware server failure.


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The authors of WS-Notification include Akamai Technologies, open-source project the Globus Alliance, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SAP, Sonic Software and Tibco Software. IBM, HP and the Globus Alliance collaborated around the WS-Resource Framework, which describes how the status of computing resources can be communicated in a Web services application.

Web services attempt to bridge proprietary software from many manufacturers to offer a standard way to link distributed systems. IBM and Microsoft have and three years ago published a common plan for development.

In this case, however, the two industry giants' priorities diverged.

IBM decided not to go with a similar effort led by Microsoft, called WS-Eventing, because it wanted to ensure that an event mechanism would work well with emerging standards for Web services management and grid computing, said Karla Norsworthy, director of dynamic e-business technology at IBM. The IBM-led group also designed the specification to work easily with integration "brokers," specialized middleware that sends data messages across a network.

IBM and its partners expect to submit the specification to a standards body for consideration as an industry standard in the next two or three months.

"We didn't want to see the (Web services) management or grid community create something unique" in regards to events and resource definitions, Norsworthy said.

Tibco, which worked with IBM and Microsoft on their respective efforts, said that both approaches have merit. Tibco plans to work with the two groups to bridge the technical differences, said Larry Neumann, director of marketing at Tibco.

IBM's approach is comprehensive because it takes into account grid and Web services management standards, while the document published by Microsoft and its partners describes much simpler scenarios, Neumann said.

Using an event model, corporations can publish data and make it available to different subscribers. Server-based integration software handles the delivery of data via messages.

"Until recently, each messaging system has had its own proprietary mechanism for notifying systems of when events happen, and so standards will help considerably to facilitate messaging between businesses, departments and systems that can't currently talk to each other," said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at research company ZapThink.

IBM, Microsoft and other partners are expected to soon submit to a standards body a reliable-messaging specification that would work with an event publishing mechanism. A committee at the url="http://www.oasis-open.org">Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards is already considering a reliable-messaging specification backed by Sun Microsystems, Oracle and others.