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IBM, CA, Sun Sign Up for WS-Eventing

In a sign of continued convergence in a space where disparate philosophies have stalled growth, a trio of vendors have agreed to help update a specification that describes the communication of events in a Web services architecture.

IBM , CA and Sun Microsystems joined original authors Microsoft , BEA and Tibco Software in revamping the Web Services Eventing spec.

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.

IBM said on its alphaWorks site that the upgraded WS-Eventing improves the use of endpoint references in place of subscription ID, thereby enhancing interoperability. Also, the update features delivery nodes that allow events to be pushed asynchronously, as well as extensibility points that allow the possibility of adding other nodes in the future.

A regular ally with Microsoft and BEA in developing Web services specs, IBM refrained from participating in the formation of WS-Eventing when it was announced in January, citing technical differences.

The company chose to work on its own WS-Notifications spec, which it unveiled two weeks later.

Even now, WS-eventing and WS-Notifications share similarities. IBM said on its alphaWorks site that WS-Eventing provides similar functionality to that of WS-BaseNotification, one of the WS-Notification specifications submitted to an OASIS TC in April 2004.

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

Unlike some disparate standards efforts, industry experts were hardly alarmed at the existence of a similar spec, particularly after IBM and the WS-Eventing camp left the door open for the possibility of working together. After all, they recognize as much as anyone that customers want compatible specs.

Still, analysts warmly accepted the news.

"IBM [and Sun and CA] joining Microsoft in their WS-Eventing spec is definitely a major win for Web Services and SOA adoption," said Ronald Schmelzer, ZapThink senior analyst. "I think we're finally seeing convergence and coalescence on a set of specifications that are gaining market traction."

Schmelzer further said it is important for vendors to agree over how events and asynchronous publish/subscribe style notifications will happen. Without such uniformity, he said companies would have to implement a single product to achieve cross-organizational messaging. WS-Eventing provides interaction across multiple companies using Web services.

Perhaps even greater news is the idea that Sun, which for years had been at odds with rivals Microsoft and IBM in Web services standards-making, pledged its support, making it the second major spec in a month that it is working with the others on.

Earlier this month, Sun joined SAP, Microsoft, BEA and IBM in sending the WS-Addressing spec to the W3C.