WS-Notification provides a mechanism for standards-based communications of events within a network of computer systems.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

January 20, 2004

2 Min Read

IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and other high-tech companies on Tuesday released a Web services specification for interoperability between systems within a supply chain, grid computing, and an infrastructure management environment.

WS-Notification provides a mechanism for standards-based communications of events within a network of computer systems. Examples could include an application notifying another that a purchase order has been accepted, or that data is ready for download. Until recently, communicating such "events" between business applications was done through proprietary messaging systems.

The same computing need within a web services architecture is being addressed by Microsoft, BEA Systems, Tibco Software, and others through a separate specification called WS-Eventing. IBM stressed that the groups aren't competing, but are taking different approaches.

The priorities of IBM and its partners focus on allowing message brokers, such IBM MQSeries, to be present between the event publisher and the subscriber within a network, in addition to managing all other notifications and the end points.

In addition, IBM is interested in supporting its grid-computing initiative, which needed notification to work. Grid computing is the sharing of processing power across a network so that all machines function as one larger supercomputer.

Although Microsoft and its partners are focused on a different set of priorities and products, analysts expect the technologies from the two camps to eventually be brought together into one specification. "I don't believe we're going to see a battle here," said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst for high-tech researcher ZapThink.

Karla Norsworthy, director of E-business technology for IBM, confirmed that IBM intends to eventually merge the specifications, although there's no timetable. "We're quite confident that we can converge these technologies," Norsworthy said. "We can figure out how the Eventing specification fits into the larger picture that we're drawing. It may require some changes to both specifications, and we're anxious to roll up our sleeves and get to work."

In building WS-Notification, the companies incorporated integration with Web services management technologies under development by Oasis, an international standards body, and standards under development by the Global Grid Forum, Norsworthy said.

While specification work appears to be progressing, businesses may have to wait a bit for product incorporating these standards. While the vendors plan to ship product, most are at the stage of letting the specifications provide the guide to their overall technology strategies.

"IBM (for example) has a logical plan for tying all this together," Schmelzer said. "This specification is aimed at contributing to that cohesive framework."

Besides WS-Notification, IBM, HP, Sonic Software, and Tibco released WS-Resources Framework, a description of how to handle application communications related to expiration of contracts and service level agreements, deleting products from inventory systems and other processes.

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