There's no chicken-and-egg quandary when it comes to the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I). Standards come first. Then the WS-I kicks into gear.
The organization's mission is to create best practices that promote Web services interoperability, regardless of the development platform or operating system on which those services run or are created. And right now, WS-I's progress is at the mercy of maturing standards.
"We're at an interesting place. Since we are by definition downstream by standards, we have to build profiles, tools and applications after standards are approved. We are caught up with standards on the market," said Andy Astor, chairman of the WS-I marketing and communications committee. "We are waiting for some of the standards to mature and for some of the alternative standards to coalesce into unified approach."
WS-I started 2004 like gangbusters: its Security Scenarios working group published its draft in February, it tested tools for the Basic Profile 1.0 in March, and it released the Basic Security Profile draft in May and the Basic Profile Attachments and SOAP Binding profiles in August.
Since late summer, the organization had virtually gone dark, but yesterday that holding pattern was broken with the announcement of the WS-I Advocates Program, which gives vendors an opportunity to show their support for the organization without formally joining and paying a sign-up fee of $3,000.
Companies interested in becoming a WS-I Advocate will have their company name, logo and testimonial posted on the WS-I site. Signees, meanwhile, can post an advocate logo on their site and will receive the WS-Insider, the organization's newsletter. Joining the advocate program, however, does not entitle them to attend WS-I meetings or participate in working groups or other committees.
"WS-I really wants to be as broad an organization as possible, and wants to welcome as many people into its community as possible," Astor said. "Some companies support the work of WS-I, but don't have the resources to be contributing members."
The WS-I's last splash for 2004 closes out a busy year. In the meantime, standards bodies must iron out the wrinkles in competing specifications and put the stamp of approval on a few others before WS-I can spring back into action.
"We have a few things in the works for early next year," Astor said. "But standards like WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Reliability [that overlap] and some of the transaction specs put us in an awkward situation to say the least. We can't pick one [to profile]. It's not our charter to do so."