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WS-I Publishes Basic Profile Working Draft

The Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization Tuesday took another step toward its goal of helping enterprises sort out Web services specification when it published the Web Services Basic Profile (WSBasic) working draft.

San Francisco-based WS-I seeks to be the umbrella organizational body that helps the various standards bodies, like the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), coordinate their efforts on XML Web services. Last week, the organization healed a large rift in the Web services community when it brought major holdout Sun Microsystems into the fold.

WSBasic consists of implementation guidelines recommending how the core Web services specifications SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1, UDDI 2.0, XML 1.0 and XML Schema should be used together to develop interoperable Web services.

The intent of the Basic Profile is to cover:

  • Messaging: the exchange of Web service protocol elements, usually over a network
  • Description: the enumeration of the messages associated with a Web service, along with implementation details
  • Discovery: metadata that enables the advertisement of a Web service's capabilities
  • Security: mechanisms that provide integrity, privacy, authentication and authorization.

"We've met a major milestone by releasing the working draft ahead of schedule," said Tom Glover, chairman of WS-I, during his keynote address at the Gartner Group Application Integration and Web Services conference in Chicago Tuesday. "While the Basic Profile is composed of detailed guidelines aimed at helping developers build interoperable Web services, we expect that broad adoption of the profile will provide a level of confidence for executives making investment decisions about Web services and Web services products."

Neil Charney, Microsoft's representative to WS-I, added, "The Basic Profile is an attempt to draw a circle around the various specifications out there that together create a basic Web service."

He explained that WSBasic clearly delineates a baseline definition for Web services, creating a foundation for all of the work taking place around the technology. "One of the key requirements is that the vendors understand a common and consistent definition of Web services and that customers understand it," he said.

The need for broad industry adoption of standards is clear, according to a joint study by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and Systinet, released earlier this month. The study, based on 790 responses, found that a third of respondents had live Web services deployments and nearly a third were at an early experimentation stage. Also, 78 percent of respondents said Web services would become a significant part of their IT architecture within two years. Even so, nearly 90 percent of the respondents listed "immature standards" as a technology risk to Web services.

"The Web Services Interoperability Organization is founded to address the essential issue surrounding Web services: the promotion of a set of standards and guidelines enabling Web services to interoperate," said Yefim Natis, vice president and research director at Gartner Group. "Gartner believes that assured Web services interoperability across products of all Web services vendors would help to build credibility of Web services as a strategic technology choice for mission-critical enterprise computing. The availability of the Basic Profile Working Draft is the first step in the right direction."

WS-I is now seeking feedback on the published working draft, and hopes to have a final version ready in early 2003. In the meantime, it plans to release early versions of a number of tools by the end of the year, including testing tools for monitoring and analyzing interactions with a Web service in order to determine conformance with WSBasic, use cases and usage scenarios that define distinct classes of real-world business and technical requirements for Web services, and sample applications that demonstrate best practices for the implementation of applications based on WSBasic.

"We're all very encouraged with the time frame in which these deliverables are being introduced," Charney said.