HP donates WS management specs to Apache

While Hewlett-Packard is chanting the benefits of Web services management standards, Forrester thinks the celebrations are premature.

While vendors such as Hewlett-Packard (HP) are touting the ratification of the Web Services Distributed Management

(WSDM) 1.0 specification, analysts think that the industry isn't ready for such a standard.

To create more exposure and accelerate the adoption of Web services management standards, HP recently donated implementations of three related OASIS Web services management specifications to the Apache Software Foundation: Management Using Web Services, the Web Services Resource Framework and Web Services Notification.

The three specifications are part of a family of standards that are referenced by WSDM. Approved as an OASIS standard earlier this month, WSDM defines a way to integrate management software applications with different IT resources, such as mobile devices and servers, using Web services.

For example, companies such as BEA Systems Inc., SAP AG or Oracle Corp. might leverage these standards to expose management information from their applications as business services. These services would then be consumed by management software from companies such as AmberPoint, Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) or HP.

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Alternately, these manageable business services can also be consumed by other Web services in a service-oriented architecture, said Judi Cowell, standards program manager at HP. For instance, a financial service may need to communicate transaction or authentication information to a store, which it could do using the management interfaces.

But while management vendors such as HP, CA and IBM are blowing the WSDM horn, a recent Forrester Inc. report suggests that firms simply aren't ready to take advantage of the standard.

The reality is that companies typically have a plethora of management software products scattered across IT groups -- one of Forrester's clients listed 250 separate products, according to the report.

Firms purchase different tools to solve specific problems. Even with perfect standards, integrating more than a few packages will be very difficult, preventing firms from integrating management or creating a business view of IT, the report said.

Meanwhile, AMD Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Intel Corp., Microsoft and Sun Microsystems Inc. are working on a Web Services (WS)-Management specification that they plan on submitting to a standards body sometime this year, according to Forrester.

A lack of convergence with competing standards, such as WS-Management, may also be a limiting factor in the widespread adoption of WSDM, the report said. Organizations like the Enterprise Grid Alliance and the Storage Networking Industry Association are also pushing their own efforts.

Nevertheless, Cowell said she believes that convergence is on the horizon, as groups like the Distributed Management Task Force look at ways to expose the common information model using Web services.

"In that working group, we have representatives from the WS-Management specification and the WSDM committee working on how to get alignment and coalition on a common Web services [management] stack," she said.

Meanwhile, HP continues to enhance its Adaptive Enterprise software through such standards. By reaching out to the open source community, HP hopes to evolve reference implementations of the specifications, which can then help companies adopt standards-based management solutions.

"We felt that these standards should be available to the industry in a royalty free, open source way," she said. "We chose to work in the OASIS technical committees for each of the standards, while internally building our [own] internal implementations of these."

HP coded the three donated implementations in a modular way so that they could be contributed to Apache as open source code, Cowell said. This would allow their customers and independent software vendor partners to quickly benefit from open source innovation.

The three donations, codenamed Apollo, Hermes and Muse, are currently under incubation on Apache's Web site, which provides an online community of open source software projects. All new projects submitted to Apache undergo a review, or incubation period, before they can officially join the foundation.

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