You may have noticed there's a lot of Web services standards these days, and that most vendors claim to "support" those standards inside their product lines.
Yet how well does it all work when you flip the switch and go live, attempting to standardize a service across multiple vendor products in a service-oriented architecture?
Tomorrow five major players in the Web services and networking arenas will attempt to demonstrate how the Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) specification can do just that. Using a weather station service management scenario at the Enterprise Management World conference in North Bethesda, Md., the interoperability demonstration will use WSDM to perform real-time management inside a SOA.
IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Tibco Software Inc., Hitachi Data Systems Corp. and DataPower Technology Inc. will run the test, showing off the capability of the OASIS specification to perform dynamic discovery and perform automated redirects based on resource availability.
"Management vendors are overwhelmed trying to support all these new and interesting resources," said Heather Kreger, lead architect for Web services and management for Standards and Emerging Technologies at IBM and chair of the OASIS WSDM committee. "WSDM allows us to get more resource information and tie it together better. We can actually get management tools to interact with other management tools, rather than have everything sit in its own silo."
WSDM creates a free agent Web services proxy capable of communicating with multiple management products, breaking the classic model of the proxy being a wholly owned subsidiary of the management product.
"In the older Web services management world, if a vendor doesn't or won't have a proxy or agent for some part of your Web services platform, you can't manage it," said DataPower chief technology officer Eugene Kuznetsov. "Since the SOA environment is very distributed and very heterogeneous, it is a virtual certainty that any given vendor, especially a 50-person startup, won't cover all of it. Also, other, non-Web-services systems such as storage or IP networks are part of the SOA, and it's only the large guys -- HP, IBM Tivoli and CA -- that have any visibility into it. "
WSDM, in essence, becomes the glue to manage all these parts at play within an SOA. Suddenly Web services management products and old-line IT management can swap information and track performance at the application layer.
Kreger added that part of the promise of WSDM is that it will be able to feed information into a Business Process Execution Language management tool, allowing business processes to manage IT resources. Also, WSDM scales from extremely small devices, like a 102K BlackBerry handheld, to mainframes.
Yet the key, which tomorrow's demonstration hopefully will underscore, is that it not be a proprietary solution.
"We need the interoperability," Kreger said. "We're not doing this [SOA] without interoperability."
Interoperability has been a bigger issue for networking and storage vendors, but with the glut of Web services standards and varied SOA-branded products in the marketplace many see an increased role for it in the applications/services sphere.
"I think it's critical because of the networked nature of SOA," Kuznetsov said. "The whole value proposition of SOA falls down if different vendors' products don't interoperate 'out of the box,' and the only way we know how to do this successfully is what worked in the networking world, Interop and certification events where vendors bring in their hardware or software, see if it works with others and tune/fix until it does."
He believes that the controlling assumption in software, that two separate products won't automatically interoperate, will give way to the networking notion that they must.
"There's a huge difference between claiming support for spec and actually having something that works with other products," he said.