Monthly Archives: January 2007

OSGi Enterprise Expert Group kickoff

We had a pretty good turnout for the EEG kickoff meeting yesterday – altogether 27 people at the meeting (ok 6 were from IONA 😉 and 19 for dinner (only 1 from IONA ;-).
Tim and I had excellent help and support from Peter Kriens, BJ Hargrave, and Jon Bostrom – all of whom gave unselfishly of their advice, and were a real pleasure to work with.
The major activity was defining “workstreams” for creating EEG requirements. We used the list of requirements from the enterprise workshop as input to the discussion.
We came away with 7 tracks:

  • Distributed OSGi
  • Extended lifecycle management
  • OSGi and Spring
  • SCA and OSGi
  • J2EE and OSGi
  • Browsers
  • Nonfunctional areas

We’re expecting to have drafts of the RFPs (request for proposal) detailing the use cases (or stories) for each of these areas in time for the next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 28. In the OSGi process, the RFPs define the requirements for the design documents, from which the specifications are created, and later the reference implementations and conformance tests.
This is my first experience with OSGi, but I have to say I think it went very well, and the enterprise work seems to have a lot of potential. It seems like a lot of people are looking for an alternative to JEE, and while (as the list of workstreams shows) working with JEE is important to OSGi, the EEG seems to be heading in a different direction – one in which enterprise features are created as downloadable bundles, or plugins, to the core. You can just configure the ones you need, rather than having to install a whole big container if all you need is one or two features.
OSGi has made its mark in the area of packaging and deployment – I think it is pretty much on the way to becoming the standard for that. But it can also be used as a lightweight container. Some examples already exist, and I am glad to report those folks are among the EEG members.
We are just starting, and as Peter Kriens said at the end, there’s a lot of work to do. But we are off to a good start.
Thanks again to everyone who attended and took part, both in the meeting and in the dinner.
From the foot of the table
From the head of the table

Web of Services Workshop program

Last week Ken Laskey, Philippe LeHegaret and I published the program for the upcoming Web of Services Workshop, sponsored by W3C and hosted by Mitre.
After a bit more than a year working toward this, and worrying that we wouldn’t receive enough papers, I am very much looking forward to the presentations and the discussions. We ended up recieving a lot of great papers, from a variety of sources, and representing a variety of viewpoints.
I am also pleased that the prorgam commitee recommended that the IONA paper start things off. Since I’m co-chair, Steve has agreed to deliver the presentation (and actually his name also should be on the paper, since he contributed to it).
Paul, Pete, and Mark have blogged about it, in Pete’s case mostly because of Nick Gall’s paper.
Rest assured 😉 that this position definitely will be part of the discussion. Nick is not the only one to raise it.
However, we also recieved several papers from users stating requirements for additional work.
I originally raised the question because the industry lacks independent leadership for Web services, and therefore it seems hard to know when we are “done.”
But my main interest, dating back some dozen years now, is in the area of enterprise software standardization. I think no issue is more significant nor more important to the industry today. Are Web services the answer? The Web? Or maybe a hybrid, as I am inclined to think.
At any rate, I’m looking forward to what promises to be a very interesting workshop. Stay tuned – although the workshop itself isn’t open to the public, the proceedings will be published.
ps Thanks very much to everyone who submitted a paper!

Update on Celtix Enterprise

I’m sorry this is a little late, but I wanted you to know (if you don’t already) that the new version of Celtix Enterprise now includes milestone 1 of CXF M1 and also milestone 1 of Qpid M1 (both Apache incubators).
Also Jarek Gawor has posted a simple tutorial on creating a Web service with JAX-WS using CXF and Geronimo that you might find interesting.

Need for WS-Trust

Sorry for the delay, meant to post this earlier…
Gunnar has posted a good entry giving some background on the requirement for WS-Trust.
Federated security is becoming more important as we move up the abstraction layer in software, and think more about assembling applications more and more from reusable services hosted in disparate software environments.
As interoperability specialists, we have been aware of this requirement for quite some time. In fact I contributed to the original IONA security architecture definition about 5 years ago. It has evolved considerably since then, and of course we will continue to evolve it toward standardization as these new security specifications mature.
We have one really great example in production (unfortunately do not have permission to mention the customer name) that federates Windows Active Directory with RACF on the mainframe, creating a single sign on solution based on Kerberos.
ps Like the George Clinton analogy!

One door closes and another one opens

Update 1/24: see also Mark Little’s post to InfoQ, and the previous interview with Stefan Tilkov for background.
Last week at the WS-TX TC meeting in Hursley the TC voted unanimously to approve the current drafts of WS-C, WS-AT, and WS-BA to progress toward OASIS standards.
This is great news – a good result of a little more than a year’s committee work, which is actually pretty fast for a standards group.
I would particularly like to highlight the contributions of my co-chair, Ian Robinson, the TC secretary, Paul Knight, and the editors of the specifications. Many TC members also made significant contributions along the way – thanks! This has really been a great TC.
I actually started down this path almost 7 years ago, while working to submit SOAP 1.1. We started mapping the Transaction Internet Protocol (TIP) (which I also worked on) to SOAP (insert your own joke here 😉 but quickly encountered a showstopper – the lack of persistent sessions in HTTP.
TIP, like most distributed TP standards, relies upon the use of persistent sessions to maintain shared transaction context. And distributed TP standards (including TIP and OTS/JTS) interpret the loss of the communications session that maintains the shared context as an error requiring rollback.
For browsers a lost session is no big deal (just click again on the link) but if you are doing distributed transactions you could easily end up with a lot of rollbacks and not getting much work done.
(This is, by the way, one of the reasons Mark Little and I created the WS-Context spec.)
Anyway it has definitely been a long haul, and worth raising a glass…
The WS-TX TC at the King’s Head, Hursley
(full photo)
A fitting place to end our technical work, I suppose, since Hursley is a worldwide center for IBM’s transaction processing products, which still dominate the market. And they have a real fancy old English manor house, too.
“Hursley House”
(full photo)
(Our meeting room was on the ground floor, facing the lawn, just inside the lefthand column group.)
Next week I start my new adventure in the world of software standards as co-chair of the new OSGi Enterprise Expert Group. IONA is hosting the EEG kickoff meeting next Tuesday (Jan 30) at our Dublin office.
(No, I’m sorry, we don’t have an old Irish manor house, but we do lead the CORBA market ! 😉

WS-Context moving thru OASIS standard process

From Mark I am reminded to mention that we are (finally) moving the WS-Context spec toward a vote for possible acceptance as an OASIS standard.
One of the things that I have always liked about WS-Context (and this by the way is something I picked up during the Web Services Architecture work from Mark Baker and others) is the opportunity to model the context as a Web reference. It can also be passed by value directly in a SOAP header.
WS-Context defines an XML structure in which to store data elements related to the service execution environment, such as transaction context (from which the idea was generalized), database connection IDs, user IDs, security tokens, and so on. These are values typically generated by the service infrasturcture rather than created by the application, but need to be associated with the application.
Some of the committee members used to suggest a better name for the spec would be “WS-Cookie” and that is a good way to think about its purpose.
When Mark and I first created the spec (I think it was Mark’s idea initially) we wanted to ensure that this type of data also could be used in a RESTful manner.
The spec underwent somewhat significant revision during the WS-CAF TC process, but I am glad to say that the RESFful behavior has been preserved. It is perfectly reasonable to implement a “context service” (as defined in the spec) using HTTP GET and PUT to obtain a representation of, and update the state of, a Web resource in order to share context across multiple service invocations.
I highlight this because the expected behavior of a WS-* related spec is to pass information by value as a SOAP header, which WS-Context certainly does. However I believe WS-Context is a little bit different in also supporting a RESTful behavior.
We are, of course, hopeful that the proposal to standardize WS-Context will succeed, and that WS-Context will find its place in the SOA world.

Reminder: Web of Services Workshop

Just a reminder on the upcoming W3C Workshop
Web of Services for Enterprise Computing
27-28 February 2007
Bedford, MA, USA
Hosted by MITRE
Important dates and deadlines:
* 10 January 2007: Deadline for position papers
* 25 January 2007: Workshop program published
* 30 January 2007: Registration closed
Background is basically like that Mark Twain quote, does anything really need to be done?
Are Web services complete?
Should REST be used instead?
Or maybe a hybrid?
W3C is best known as the home of the standards that drive the Web, but is there anything in particular W3C can or should do concerning the Web of services? Let’s find out.
This Workshop is open to W3C members and non-members alike. I hope to see you there.