Web of Services for the Enterprise

I am very pleased that the “Web of Services” workshop has been announced.
This workshop is open to W3C members and non-members. This workshop represents the next step in a somewhat lengthy discussion about the importance of Web services to enterprise software.
I am really looking forward to pinning down what, if anything, is wrong with Web services, and what, if anything, the W3C should do about it. Especially in the context of using Web services for SOA implementation.
Following the original submission of SOAP the W3C was the place for Web services specifications. This was the case until WS-Security was submitted to OASIS in September 2002. Since then Web services specifications work has been split among W3C, OASIS, WS-I, and the Microsoft workshop process.
One thing the industry lacks is a single point of leadership. Perhaps W3C should try to take that on? Or maybe OASIS would be a better place?
Another thing we tried for a couple of years was to create a Web services architecture. But we didn’t ever fully reach our goal. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good information in that document (and I know that the OASIS SOA RM used it), but it falls a little short of defining exactly what a Web services architecture is and how to tell whether or not a specification fits within it.
Other people often say that the REST approach is better than WS-* (usually described as “SOAP vs REST”) and this has pretty much been an endless argument in the blogosphere since it started (and was an endless argument at the WS-Arch WG as well). Maybe the workshop results can help resolve this, although that may be like suggesting the merger of two large established religions 😉 Anyway…
Does the Semantic Web have a role to play in the enterprise? Many would say “yes,” but this is another somewhat lengthy debate without much resolution. Maybe through the workshop we can identify enterprise software requirements and use cases that will settle this one, too…
The most important thing is to hear loudly and clearly from the users about their requirements for enterprise software standardization, especially for SOA based applications, and what needs to be done to truly achieve it.

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5 responses to “Web of Services for the Enterprise

  1. I think that nowadays the feeling about the W3C in the industry is quite negative, as being slow and bureaucratic and much closer to the academic realm than to the industry one. Of course this may be due to the interest of big vendors in using other specification bodies which make them much easier to promote their own technologies. More even, the trend seems towards creating ad-hoc bodies specialized in specific technologies; e.g. OpenSOA or OpenAjax.
    Thus I am skeptical about the real impact the W3C may make in the world of SOA. And maybe there is no need of a single standardization body for everything. E.g. successful standards like SQL, HTTP, XML, or UML come all from different ones (ANSI/ISO, IETF/W3C, W3C, OMG).

  2. Eric:
    Good thoughts. I think the problem with the WSAG was that it tried to define the abstract model for SOA and a concrete architecture in one document, without doubt a bad idea. The OASIS SOA RM TC had several members who worked on the WSA and it was from that experience we made an early decision to separate these. Our next steps are to map the SOA RM to a concrete set of standards and protocols like the WS-* stack. This work is the SOA Reference Architecture (RA) Sub Committee and has only just started in recent months. The RA will also be abstract but if done correctly, should embrace models such as WS-Policy, WS-Trust, etc.
    I would welcome a single point of reference in the industry for each level (Architecture and models in one entity), XML standards in another, wire protocols in another area as a partial step towards unification but I am in doubt it would happen. There is a diagram in the SOA RM
    FWIW – the semantics question was a rat hole (what we called the “trout pond” in the W3C). Once we started down that conversation, a large sinkhole started opening threatening to consume the entire OASIS TC.
    D

  3. OpenSOA seems to be a more applicable group for getting agreement and a set of standards in place.
    Not to go into Semantic Web discussions, but I do think there is a place for it. Semantics and Ontology could be applied to the management and definition of how things interrelated. During runtime it probably doesn’t make as much sense.
    Directories, repositories, etc…

  4. To respond to a couple of the comments – and apologies for the delay here – it is quite true that the W3C might not be the right place for this, or that it might not be effective in helping to address issues with WS-* standards. The workshop is in part a reaction to a challenge along these lines that I presented to them at last year’s AC meeting (i.e. membership meeting). I suppose the reaction to the workshop and its results will help tell the story.
    OpenSOA by the way is specific to SCA and SDO – it is chartered only to work on those specifications, and it is unclear what its future will be once those specs reach “V1” and are submitted to a standards body such as OASIS, W3C, or OMG.
    Regarding the OASIS SOA RM – yes, I recognize the influence or continuity between that effort and the previous effort at W3C. However I wouldn’t say that attempting to do too much was what led to its failure. The semantic trout pond was more responsible in the end. But probably even more than anything else the effort was a bit premature. When the effort started the WS-Security TC didn’t even exist. So we were sort of in the place of predicting the future. REST as an architecture was defined retrospectively on HTTP and the Web – the Web didn’t start with the definition of the REST architecture.
    So it was probably a bit much to think we could gain consensus among such a broad constituency (some of which also dropped out of the effort as it went along) in such early days of WS-*.
    Eric

  5. New and Notable 117

    I am still reeling from seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers with Mars Volta 2 nights ago in Philly at the

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