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Microsoft, Vendors Move to Corral Web Services Events

After working quietly behind the scenes, BEA Systems Microsoft and TIBCO Software unveiled a schema that describes the communication of events in a Web services architecture.

The three companies published the new Web services specification, WS-Eventing, Wednesday on their Web sites as a continuation of the companies' collaboration in building a complete Web Services Architecture, which they began a few years ago.

WS-Architecture addresses key barriers to adoption, including interoperability, security and manageability.

Microsoft, IBM , BEA, TIBCO and other software vendors have been working together to bring Web services to the forefront of the business world, developing specs they hope will be utilized by other vendors.

WS-Eventing is a set of protocols, message formats and interfaces for a Web service to receive events from another Web service. The spec applies to Web services used in the enterprise, the home and devices.

In the software world, events include any set of triggers that notifies a system when a preset condition occurs. It can include such Web services tasks as one computer telling another when a product is out of stock, a printer is out of paper or alerting a user when a stock reaches a certain price point. Systems can "subscribe" to events and then get notified when these events happen.

John Kiger, director of Web services strategy at BEA, said such a specification is needed because, in today's Web services world, there is no standard way for systems to communicate events to Web services subscribers.

ZapThink Senior Analyst Ronald Schmelzer agreed. His research firm covers issues on XML, Web services and services-oriented architectures (SOAs).

"WS-Eventing is important because different systems have their own proprietary ways of defining events and sending notifications," he said. "WS-Eventing standardizes both. This would allow a TIBCO system to send notifications to a .NET system, for example."

Kiger told internetnews.com that WS-Eventing works when a Web service sends a subscription request to an event or provider, such as a printer, the machine acknowledges the event, and sends a message back to the subscriber that it is out of paper. It does so automatically, without any developer involvement.

Kiger said WS-Eventing builds on the WS-architecture specs that BEA has been building along with Microsoft, TIBCO and IBM over the last couple of years, including WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Addressing, both of which were unveiled by the four firms last March.

"The power of this proposal is in its simplicity and eloquence," Kiger said. "All of the standards are inter-related to form one unified architecture."

It should be noted that IBM did not participate in the creation of WS-Eventing.

IBM Director of Dynamic E-business Technologies Karla Norsworthy told internetnews.com that WS-Eventing just doesn't mesh with what IBM is trying to do at this point, noting that Big Blue is following its own messaging-oriented middleware and grid software schedules, which employ similar technologies.

Norsworthy also noted that IBM is working with standards body OASIS on event technology and said that IBM is still working with others in WS-Architecture, just at a different pace.

ZapThink Senior Analyst Jason Bloomberg agreed.

"I wouldn't take IBM's absence from this announcement as having any particular significance," he said. "Clearly, WS-Eventing fits in with the WS-Architecture roadmap that IBM has been spearheading, so I would expect their absence is more a sign of a distribution of effort than anything else."

Kiger said the next step, now that WS-Eventing exists at each vendor's site to be downloaded, is to solicit industry input with the hope that eventually an open standards body such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) or OASIS might adopt the specification.

In the meantime, Kiger said it is important for other software vendors to look at the spec and discern if it works for them or not. Where WS-Eventing is concerned, he said, the lines are open for feedback.