IBM, Fujitsu Seek Collaborative WSDM

IBM and Fujitsu announced a far-reaching agreement to collaborate on autonomic computing standards.

The first step in the alliance begins with Fujitsu’s endorsement and promotion of IBM’s Common Base Event proposal within the Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) working group. The WSDM specification is for managing distributed resources in a Web services architecture.

Future collaboration efforts will include standardizing the management of IT resources in the network as well as a standardized method for installing and deploying software.

WSDM is seen as a critical specification for managing and resolving the differences created by competing vendor applications. Implementation of the spec automatically identifies and resolves communication disconnects between software with the end goal of eliminating business-to-business errors when data are transferred.

“Vendors realize that doing things in independent ways doesn’t solve the customer problems, so via techniques like adapters and so forth, I think people will work hard to converge their implementations with a standards-based direction,” said Alan Ganek, a vice president of autonomic computing for IBM.

Ganek said its overall collaboration strategy with Fujitsu makes sense. Both companies have a wide array of application covering a range of business-centric activities. To date, he said, information exchange has been the extent of collaboration with both companies.

“Decisions like this aren’t made lightly, so our technical people have been together, compared notes and tried to agree on what the priorities were and what solutions and areas look promising,” Ganek said.

Multi-vendor support for emerging Web services, and by extension service-oriented architectures (SOA), standards is going to play an increasingly important role in coming years. As it stands, there are a growing number of software applications supporting one standard or another and customers are left with the decision of which one to support.

Jason Bloomberg, a senior analyst with ZapThink, said that companies are going to have to work together and resolve any industry standard issues or risk losing customers all together.

“If you can’t get seamless interoperability, then the standards don’t mean that much to customers,” he said. “It’s a great thing for your wish list, but if it doesn’t work for you, then customers are going to spend their money on solving their problems today, not betting on some standard three years down the road.”

Fortunately, reaching consensus won’t be very difficult as WSDM enjoys broad industry support with 19 companies on the working group’s technical committee. Notably absent from the rolls, however, are Microsoft , Sun Microsystems , Dell , Intel and AMD , who have co-developed WS-Management, a specification released in October to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).

WS-Management, as the specification’s author list suggests, is more interested in the hardware running behind the software. The goal is to create a universal language for all types of devices that might use the network: servers, workstations, mobile devices, datacenters and everything in between. While there is some overlap, Bloomberg said, it’s too easy to write off WS-Management and WSDM as competing standards and wouldn’t be surprised to see the two to merge somewhere down the road.

“In a sense they’re competing but I would say it’s more accurate to say they each focus on solving different problems and there’s some overlap,” he said. “If we said they were simply competing, we’re sort of feeding the fire, the frenzy between the vendors who want to make this out as some sort of battle, but it’s more a question of each vendor trying to come up with specs that will provide the appropriate level of interoperability for their customers based on the sorts of problems they’re trying to solve.”

A link between the two has already been established, according to IBM’s Ric Telford, director of autonomic computing.

“The bridge between device management, generally defined in DMTF, and the promising world of Web services is [WS-Common Information Model (WS-CIM)],” he said. “This committee has a work register established with WSDM. In other words, the efforts going on in DMTF to define Web Services interfaces into devices is linked to the WSDM work we have going on in OASIS.”

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