Microsoft today took the first shot across the bow in what promises to be a concentrated service-oriented architecture assault in the coming year.
It officially released version 3.0 of its Web Services Enhancements (WSE), complete with five turnkey security profiles, beefed up transport options and support for emerging security standards. The development package marks Microsoft's attempt to give IT shops the latest in Web services creation tools in advance of the anticipated 2006 release of Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), the company's SOA development environment formerly code-named Indigo.
Like the two generations before it, WSE 3.0 aims to give developers a graphical development wizard that attaches Web services meta data to their applications.
"The goal from Day 1 with WSE was to give developers help with the WS-* specs," said Ari Bixhorn, director of Web services strategy for Microsoft. "It's the responsibility of tools vendors that the implementation of these specifications works without any change for developers. The idea is to have them interoperate by default, where they become implicit in every Web service that we build."
Given the recent flurry of Web services specifications that have made their way into the standards body arena -- OASIS has formed committees to ratify three transactional standards and three security standards over the past month -- it certainly looks as if standards sprawl has become a very real issue for Web services developers.
Microsoft has also built WSE 3.0 to interoperate with its Visual Studio 2005 and .NET Framework 2.0 offering, also both released today. Though WCF won't be released until next year, WSE shares the same application program interface naming structure with it and, according to Bixhorn, all services built with WSE should be an easy upload into WCF.
He added that the latest set of releases had improved Microsoft's runtime execution, with WSE 3.0 services on Framework 2.0 seeing a 30% performance improvement over WSE 2.0 services on Framework 1.1.
The five security profiles are based on patterns Microsoft gleaned from the more than 200,000 developers who downloaded WSE 2.0, creating a snap on security for Web services. Support for the submitted versions of WS-Trust and WS-SecureConversation is also included.
In addition WSE 3.0 offers Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM) tooling, allowing developers to secure attachments such as documents, media files and spreadsheets. Bixhorn noted this option can be selected via a checkbox in the WSE configuration editor.
HTTP and Transmission Control Protocol are the top two out-of-the-box transports in WSE, though Microsoft has built in the capability to add custom transports, such as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol or proprietary message queuing, into the configuration wizard. It continues Microsoft's policy of keeping service creation and transport in two separate realms.
"The developer shouldn't have to worry about the method of transport," Bixhorn said. "You should just select one and then be able to change it later with a mouse click if you need to."
WSE 3.0 is available for free download at http://msdn.microsoft.com/webservices.
BEA Systems also furthered its SOA goals today with the release of BEA Workshop 3.0, a Java integrated development environment that supports multiple frameworks including Struts, Hibernate, Java Server Faces and JavaServer Pages. The IDE is the BEA version of the recently acquired M7 Corp. NitroX product, adding connections to BEA's WebLogic application server on top of the previous M7 offering.
Last Thursday BEA also acquired object persistence vendor SolarMetric Inc., giving it tools to support EJB 3.0 and Java Data Objects programming models. Both the release and the acquisition fit into BEA's "blended" strategy, designed to build tooling around a broad swath of SOA development techniques.
"The blended strategy means we allow you more ways to get to SOA," said Pieter Humphrey, senior product marketing manager at BEA. "We recognize open source is out there and that people are using it to start their service-oriented architectures."
The SolarMetric acquisition takes effect immediately and the amount paid in the deal has not been disclosed, but the SolarMetric Kodo persistence engine does further the SOA runtime execution story BEA has been trying to tell in recent months.
"It's one thing to offer tooling, it's another to offer tools that match the performance needs of your business," Humphrey said.