In what one analyst predicts will be a deluge of proclamations of product support for WS-Policy, Layer 7 Technologies Inc. announced today that it has demonstrated interoperability with WS-Policy supporters including IBM, BEA, SAP and Microsoft.
The results, announced at Interop Las Vegas, are based on testing done at the SAP-hosted WS-Policy Interoperability Workshop last week in Walldorf, Germany, said Dimitri Sirota, vice president of marketing and alliances at Layer 7. The standard for Web services security and governance, which entered the W3C process this past week, is considered by many vendors and analysts to be key to the advancement of SOA.
"I don't know whether it's going to be critical for companies to have support for this (WS-Policy) tomorrow, but beginning the second half of this year anybody thinking about SOA and Web services will certainly want to acquire products that are WS-Policy compliant," Sirota said. "They're going to have Oracle apps in their infrastructure. They're very likely to have SAP apps. And I bet they're going to have the Windows .NET environment. All of those will be leveraging WS-Policy."
With WS-Policy now in the W3C process that is expected to result in it becoming a bona fide standard, Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst for ZapThink LLC, predicts today's announcement from Layer 7 will be the first of many.
"Layer 7 has done a really good job of fleshing out what it means to be WS-Policy and WS-Security compliant," the analyst said.
The release of standards-based products targeted at SOA implementations shows that SOA is maturing, Schmelzer said.
He said that SOA maturity can also be seen in Layer 7's announcement this week of the general availability of its 3.5 Security operating system for its SecureSpan family of hardware and software products for XML gateways and firewalls.
The updated OS adds new clustered policy and session features designed to provide enterprise-level security to SOA applications, Layer 7's Sirota said. Existing XML firewalls and gateways do not provide automatic policy replication or session persistence across clustered deployments, he said. The software and hardware products currently providing Web services security lack the capability to "consistently and reliably enforce security policy." Layer 7's new operating system features automatic policy replication, session persistence and multi-gateway monitoring designed to scale up for enterprise deployments.
High level security, similar to what is available for old fashioned mainframe and client/server applications, is now what the customer wants for SOA, Schmelzer said in explaining how the technology for the Web services market is maturing.
"People are becoming a lot more mature about how they are implementing security for Web services," the analyst said. "Before now security for Web services was all about SSL. If they were doing security, maybe they were doing passwords. Now they realize that's a very unmanageable and a very unsafe way of allowing people access to some pretty important stuff. If you think about it, the next version of SAP is all going to be services, so do you really want random people in your network pinging your SAP system with service requests? Pretty scary, I would say."
Sirota said enterprise level security with WS-Policy support also will be important for anyone contemplating SOA in the Microsoft world, especially with the new Vista version of the Windows operating system scheduled for release in early 2007
"WS-Policy underlies Windows Communications Foundation, which is the underlying communications structure for Vista," the Layer 7 executive said. "Windows Communications Foundation uses WS-Policy for exchanging policy data."
New features in the 3.5 version of Layer 7's Security operating system include:
- Cluster-wide traffic and availability monitoring
- Automated policy replication across clusters
- Automatic stateful fail-over
- Cluster-wide session persistence
- Cluster-wide PKI management
- Clustered XSLT acceleration