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MS, Intel Shepherd New Web Services Spec

A host of companies led by Microsoft and Intel has revised and released a specification for making sure computer systems have a common way to communicate.

Microsoft and Intel, along with Dell , AMD and Sun Microsystems , have published Web Services Management (WS-Management) as a model to help IT managers remotely access devices on their networks.

According to a statement from the vendors, WS-Management covers the management of a range of computing machines, from mobile phones and handheld devices to PCs, digital video recorders, servers and data centers.

Microsoft will support WS-Management in the next release of its Windows Server and Microsoft Operations Manager. Intel will support WS-Management in its platform building blocks, with specific details to come.

While most Web services specs are baked in standards groups like OASIS or World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the companies plan to present WS-Management to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). The vendors picked DMTF because of the group's "history of leadership in developing practical management standards based on Web technologies."

The spec, first announced as WMX at WinHEC 2004 in May, overlaps the Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) spec to a degree. However, a key difference is that WS-Management provides a way for users to utilize Web services to manage things. WSDM, which has members from Sun and Dell on its technical committee, more closely involves the management of Web services.

"WS-Management actually expands upon the ideas proposed in the WSDM spec [but isn't directly related to that spec] by extending the notion of using Web Services to manage devices of all sizes and forms right now; the management specs are focused on mainly enterprise software and application assets," ZapThink analyst Ronald Schmelzer told internetnews.com.

ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg said WS-Management takes advantage of other Web services specs, such as WS-Eventing and WS-Notification, and is envisioned as a long-term replacement for older standards like SNMP .

Like all specs that are offered as standards, WS-Management faces some challenges. A major one is that the public might be leery of another perceived "Wintel" effort, as Microsoft and Intel are leading the effort, along with Dell, Bloomberg told internetnews.com.

However, Sun's involvement could temper that. Once almost diametrically opposed to Web services standards that involved Microsoft or IBM, Sun has been seemingly arm-in-arm with the Redmond, Wash., software maker since the two made a legal settlement in April.

Sun has since agreed to support WS-Addressing and WS-Eventing, along with Microsoft, IBM and others.

One notable name missing from the list of major vendor supporters for WS-Management is IBM, a company credited with doing the lion's share of Web services spec development. Bloomberg said IBM, which supports WSDM, tends to take a wait and see approach on certain specs to decide if they fit in with their plans.

"There's no reason to think IBM wouldn't support WS-M at some point in the future," Bloomberg said.