Management Web services hit open source fast track

Management vendors have put three Web services management specifications on a combined standards, open source fast track to prepare for the challenges of SOA.

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Three proposed specifications clustered around IT management of Web services have jumped from the frying pan of standards adoption into the fire of open source implementation, paving the way for a common set of standards for management inside a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

The Apache Software Foundation has moved the three Java-based standards implementations out of the incubation stage into the project stage. The hope for all three, according to Davanum Srinivas, vice president of Apache's Web services project management committee, is to "generate enough code so that these standards are ready to interact with the next generation of Web services platforms."

Judi Cowell, director of software standards at Hewlett-Packard Co., which contributed the original implementations to Apache, said she believes IT management software faces an inevitable change as SOA becomes more prevalent.

Management needs to become part of the overall architecture.
Judi Cowell
Director of Software Standards Hewlett-Packard Co.

"Management today works on point-to-point interfaces, but that won't work as well in a service-oriented architecture," she said. "We need a standard way to expose management events in a services environment."

The complication is that applications are no longer separate entities residing in predictable places. They can be diced into components, imbedded in services and generated on the fly.

"Management needs to become part of the overall architecture," Cowell said. "It can't sit outside and watch everything. What we're moving toward is a standard management service bus."

HP and its OpenView product line aren't alone. Other major management vendors like IBM and Computer Associates International Inc. are also behind the new standards and the open source implementation.

"The contribution needs to show enough support from multiple companies, not just one vendor, in order to get out of the incubation process," Srinivas said.

The three specifications, at various points in the approval process inside the OASIS standards body, are:

Srinivas hopes to have reference implementations ready soon after the specifications are ratified by OASIS. He added that the open source projects would be able to provide valuable feedback for the often-abstract standards approval process.

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After the standards and open source processes are completed, Cowell said HP would look to leverage all that work in future releases of its SOA Manager product.

As part of the Apache process, Srinivas would like to see bridges built between the new specifications and the WS-Management specification developed by hardware vendors like Microsoft, Dell Inc., Intel Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. Finding a way for the Java-based specifications to interoperate with Microsoft's Indigo Web services platform would be another for Apache.

Srinivas added, "The center of our universe is the Axis SOAP engine, so we'd like to see these projects support Axis and use Axis by default."

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