Sun Wants To Bring Order To Web Services

Proposed WS-CAF standard would combine multiple services to form composite apps

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

August 1, 2003

2 Min Read

Household International Inc., a finance and consumer lending group, is planning to build Web services out of many different existing systems, both in-house and partners'. The systems use different transaction managers, such as Unix XA or a mainframe's CICS and IMS. Developers have sought a way to use all these managers and make sure the separate apps providing pieces of the Web service run in the correct sequence within a composite application.

Standardizing how to do transactions between various systems "would make it cheaper to develop and deploy Web services," says Gus Gil, a senior architect at Household International. For instance, the company might like to create a service that consists of a stock quote obtained from one site, interest rates from another, and a transaction managed through a back-office system at a third. Gil may get his wish: Sun Microsystems is trying to build support for such services with a proposal for a set of standards, called the Web Services Composite Application Framework, that works on top of XML and the Web Services Description Language.

Sun isn't the first vendor to try to move transaction management from an ad hoc approach to a standardized process. IBM and Microsoft published a WS-Transactions proposal a year ago but haven't actively developed it, says Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at technology research firm RedMonk. Neither IBM nor Microsoft support Sun's initiative. It's supported by Arjuna Technologies, Fujitsu Software, Iona Technologies, and Oracle, which all contributed to the proposal.

Gil says he would be more convinced of the standard set's neutrality if it gets backing from companies with a history of dealing with Microsoft technologies, such as BEA Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. But he's eager to see something put in place. "If it's not biased, I'm for it," he says. A Microsoft spokesman said his company hasn't reviewed the proposals but hopes they are compatible with WS-Transactions.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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