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WS-I Publishes Basic Profile 1.0

Nearly 10 months after releasing a working draft, the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization Tuesday hit another milestone in its ongoing effort to help enterprises sort our Web services specifications with the general availability of the Basic Profile 1.0.

The organization announced the Basic Profile at the XML Web Services One conference in Boston.

Now formally approved by the WS-I membership, the Basic Profile consists of implementation guidelines on how to use core Web services specifications together to develop interoperable Web services. The profile covers SOAP 1.1 , WSDL 1.1 , UDDI 2.0 , XML 1.0 , and XML Schema .

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.

"Starting today, every Web service developer and provider will have a common framework for implementing interoperable solutions, and buyers will have a common reference point for purchasing decisions," Tom Glover, chairman of WS-I, said in a statement. "WS-I has resolved more than 200 interoperability issues associated with using the core Web services specifications together. The Basic Profile 1.0 will significantly simplify the task of implementing interoperable Web services solutions within and across enterprise boundaries."

Rob Cheng, principle product marketing manager for Web services and emerging standards at Oracle, and WS-I spokesman, told internetnews.com that the engineers who hashed out the basic profile initially found about 250 interoperability issues involved in using the five core specifications together.

"When they first got together, the working group decided to start from the bottom up," he said.

Cheng noted that between 150 and 180 of those issues were "relatively easy and straight forward." But, he said, "There were other issues that took more time. There was a lot of discussion over how to handle the error handling and fault handling."

Part of the problem was the extensibility and flexibility built into the specifications. While that means that there are many ways to use the specifications to handle various problems, it also means that if vendors don't agree on standard ways to handle those issues, their products are not likely to interoperate with each other.

Once the basic plumbing is in place, Cheng said the business value is clear. First, products that conform with the Basic Profile improve productivity because the companies working with the specifications can focus on their core competencies, rather than worrying about basic plumbing.

Secondly, for organizations looking to implement Web services, it reduces risk. "A lot of the Web services customers that we talked to, they really had this huge phobia of being the first company to jump onto the 'Beta' format while everyone else, next year, goes onto VHS," Cheng said. "If they all agree on a common set of basic guidelines, they don't have to worry about this plumbing."

Finally, Cheng said the Basic Profile simplifies buying decisions because vendors whose products are compliant with the Basic Profile will be able to carry the WS-I logo.

"If both have the WS-I logo, there's a very good chance that these two products from two different vendors will work together," Cheng said.

"Support for the Basic Profile is the baseline for interoperable Web services," said Dan Sholler, vice president of Technology Research Services at the META Group. "Customers should demand that all of their Web services-enabled technology be compliant with the Basic Profile, and that in turn will lay the foundation for Web services to fulfill their promise and provide technology independent interoperability."

Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst with XML research firm ZapThink, and moderator of the WS-I panel at the XML Web Services One conference Tuesday, said the Basic Profile is also a critical litmus test for WS-I as an organization.

"What is most important about the WS-I Basic Profile is not just the content itself (although what they are hoping to standardize from an interoperability perspective is incredibly important), but rather the fact that this is the first Profile that the WS-I will release," Schmelzer told internetnews.com.

"How this profile is adopted among end users and software vendors, and how it's used in the context of the ever-increasing set of specifications will determine how successful the WS-I is in the long-term. Thus, the WS-I must do all it can to make sure the Basic Profile is adopted and used as widely used as possible. If they can get this Profile adopted across all end user types and within the vendors of Web Services software and solutions, then it bodes well for future Profile releases, which will be much more complex than this Basic Profile."

The Basic Profile will be followed by Test Tools and Sample Applications this fall.

The WS-I logo program will roll out with the Test Tools (which will be available in both C# and Java implementations), which are designed to inspect and validate that a Web service meets the interoperability requirements of the Basic Profile.

WS-I is not looking to become a certification organization, and Cheng said enterprises that use the WS-I logo will bear the burden of proof when it comes to conformance.

"We don't do testing of it," he said. "We expect enforcement of that brand to be market-driven. We suspect no one wants to be the first person to be called on for making a bad claim."

Schmelzer added, "As they establish the value of the WS-I Profiles, hopefully software vendors will realize that it's in their best interests to make sure they are all truly interoperable. Having the WS-I produce a means by which end-users can verify interoperability will be one way to prove to the public that they are not just capable of producing agreements on paper, but also are capable of policing the growing spec universe. As the WS-I tackles more tricky Profiles, such as security, management, and process, their credibility will become of the utmost importance. So, this Basic Profile is a critical litmus test for the organization. If they can make it here, it bodes well. If not, they'll have serious challenges ahead of them."

IBM Monday told internetnews.com that its WebSphere Studio product will be the first tool from a major vendor to support Basic Profile 1.0.

The Sample Applications will include the design, implementation, test and deployment of Web services, based on selected business scenarios and implemented on 10 different platforms.

Looking ahead, Cheng said the next step in WS-I's roadmap will be interoperability guidelines for SOAP with Attachments, followed by the Basic Security Profile. Cheng said both would likely be released in first draft versions by the end of this year or early next year.