OASIS Eyes Open Web Services Management Specs

There's good news this week for those Java and .Net developers and sysadmins who want vendors to pay more attention to developing open standards for managing end-to-end web services. OASIS continues to push an agenda for cross-platform, web services management standards.

Tags: Management, Web Services, Protocol, Bumpus, Committee, OASIS, Technical Committee,

There's good news this week for those Java and .Net developers and sysadmins who want vendors to pay more attention to developing open standards for managing end-to-end web services.

OASIS has created a Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) technical committee to explore technical solutions to managing end-to-end web services. The new committee arises in part out of work begun last fall by the OASIS Management Protocol Technical Committee, which was set up to define a new inter-enterprise protocol for web services. (See IDN's Oct 4 story).

"As the number of web services deployed across the extended enterprise increases, the ability to effectively manage those services will become critical to building out a comprehensive services-oriented architecture," said Winston Bumpus (of Novell) and co-chair of the WSDM Technical Committee in a statement.

"The ability to manage web services between enterprises and across disparate computing platforms is critical," added the other co-chair, Heather Kreger of IBM . "This work is immediately relevant for business integrators who use web services, management system vendors and Web service platform vendors."

Initial WSDM members include Actional, BMC Software, Computer Associates, Confluent Software, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Novell, OpenNetwork, SeeBeyond, Sun Microsystems, Waveset and webMethods.

For its part, HP plans to contribute to OASIS what CEO Carly Fiorina calls a "web services management framework" that will provide Java and .NET developers and sysadmins a way to model and design relationships between web services and let companies architect management-ready services that can plug into management tools based on open standards. Fiorina made that commitment at BEA Systems' eWorld user conference in Orlando, Fla.

Inside OASIS' Web Services Management

At the outset of OASIS' work to develop better standards for web services management, IDN interviewed Bumpus about the specific needs of web services management. Bumpus enumerated the top priorities for a new management protocol management protocol (yet to be named): event notification, exception handling, asynchronous communications, service level agreement (SLA) enforcement and state management for traffic between legacy and Internet resources. "Whatever we do, management needs to encode policy and SLAs," Bumpus said.

Another key item for cross-platform management is what Bumpus calls "model independence." He puts it this way: "If we went down the road and said, 'Let's pick a model', and some vendors came back and said they couldn't support that model, then our interoperability is at risk. SOAP is an RPC mechanism, but it also creates a common model for data encoding, so you can have a level of interoperability you couldn't have before. Also, the new protocol will have to deal with domains that are virtual and dynamic -- not physical." The protocol will store and exchange management data using XML.

However, he hastened to add that he hoped OASIS would be able to use a mix of leveraging existing technologies and developing new ones. "We're management experts, and so we don't want to invent new wheels where we don't have to," he added, noting that leveraging prior work also helps the committee start from a common set of agreements.

But despite the need to leverage, Bumpus concedes there is work that will take the committee to new areas. "Part of our work will be a 'layering activity' that would make all that available to the new protocol." This layering work will be key to just how flexible and data-rich the new protocol will be, compared to traditional management protocols.

We asked Bumpus why, given the fact that most of management protocol is based on information capture and transfer, could XML just be used on top of existing management protocols.

"XML didn't solve the problem of information exchange all by itself," he said, "but we will be using XML schema in addition to techniques that enable us to define and validate the information being captured and sent." The protocol must also support representations of management information (devices and properties) between multiple models, and that required something broader than simply XML, Bumpus said, such as technology based on the DMTF's Common Information Model.