OASIS Tackles Unified Installs

Standards body OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structure Information Standards) wants to make it easier to install applications in corporate networks and is looking at a specification for vendors to follow when creating applications, officials announced Tuesday.

The organization has launched the OASIS Solution Deployment Descriptor (SDD) to look at ways to standardize software install components in software applications. The first meeting of the new group is scheduled for June 1.

The goal is to make it easier to deploy software in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) or grid computing environment, allowing IT managers to more easily handle the entire lifecycle of the software deployed in-house.

“Currently, deployment and lifecycle management of interrelated software sets is predominantly a manual operation, because there is no standardized way to express installation packaging for distributed enterprise applications,” said Thomas Studwell, proposed chair of the OASIS SDD Committee, in a statement.

“Our work to define a standard for describing the packaging and the means to express dependencies and various lifecycle management operations within the package will alleviate these problems and subsequently enable automation of what are now highly manual and error-prone tasks.”

Other member companies already on board include Computer Associates , HP , Novell and Sun Microsystems .

To develop a specification, the committee plans to come up with an XML-based package format to associate SDDs, resource content and software artifacts within an application. Throughout the standardization process, the group will look at the XML schemas to address layered implementations of software from their smallest units up to multi-platform, heterogeneous applications.

Ron Schmelzer, a senior analyst at ZapThink, said the specification will make it possible for companies to configure and manage different software packages without worrying about whether they’ll install correctly.

“There are so many points of integration, dependencies and rolling upgrades, especially with all the new virus and security threats out there, that no company can simply install a software package out of the box and expect it to work,” he said. “There are simply too many interdependencies among products to make that happen in a reliable way.”

There are vendors today that provide a third-party solution, he added, but they only address software that’s already been developed, not looking at software coming down the road.

“The OASIS SDD spec is looking forward at new software products and provides the configurability and interoperability before they are even implemented,” Schmelzer said. “Sort of a plug-and-play for software, but at a more granular level.”

According to OASIS officials, the technical committee will work closely with developers on related projects, including the Web Services Distributed Management and Data Center Markup Language. The committee will also coordinate its activities with the Global Grid Forum, Open Services Gateway Initiative and Distributed Management Task Force.

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