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Messaging specs drive toward convergence

OASIS on Tuesday formed the Web Services Reliable Exchange specification, marking a new era in cooperation around reliable messaging.

Setting apart their differences, vendors of two rival specifications united on Tuesday to forge an OASIS technical committee that will help drive convergence around Web services messaging standards.

The standards consortium will develop two related specifications, WS-ReliableMessaging v1.0 and WS-RM Policy v1.0, under the auspices of the Web Services Reliable Exchange (WS-RX) technical committee.

Last month, BEA Systems Inc., IBM, Microsoft and Tibco Software Inc. submitted the latest version of the WS-RM specification to OASIS. However, the standards body had already completed work on a similar specification, WS-Reliability, which was backed by a group of vendors, including Sun Microsystems Inc., Sonic Software and Oracle Corp. WS-Reliability 1.1 was ratified last November.

Until now, there have been two duplicative efforts, WS-Reliability, an OASIS standard, and WS-RM, a major vendor-backed specification.
Charles Abrams
Research DirectorGartner Inc.

"Until now, there have been two duplicative efforts, WS-Reliability, an OASIS standard, and WS-RM, a major vendor-backed specification," Charles Abrams, a research director at Gartner Inc., said in a statement. "This has caused some end user confusion and concern."

"Now that both efforts are under the auspices of OASIS, with major vendor support from both WS-Reliability and WS-RM, end user needs should be better served," Abrams said.

With reliable messaging standards, businesses can ensure that a message exchange has successfully been completed without any duplicated or lost messages. This is especially critical to commercial applications that need to ensure that a message or a purchase order has been received only once. The possibility of network failure during a transaction, for instance, facilitates the need for reliable messaging between Web services.

"Our customers consistently mention that applications such as EDI [electronic data interchange] replacement or electronic funds transfer cannot even be considered without reliable messaging," Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at IONA Technologies, said in a statement.

The WS-RM protocol works in conjunction with other Web services specifications, such as those related to security, policy, transactions and coordination, to ensure that messages are sent in a secure and scalable fashion.

Sun Microsystems, which is one of the 25 organizations planning to join the WS-RX technical committee, along with other industry giants such as Microsoft, IBM, BEA, SAP AG and Oracle, said in a statement that WS-RX "represents the first step toward a convergence of standards in the critical area of Web services reliable messaging."

For more information

Standards war: How do WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Reliability stack up?

Learn how SOA fabrics are adding reliable messaging support

"It's impossible for IT end-user companies to take a specification seriously if the vendors can't agree on a single one," said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, of Waltham, Mass. "Therefore, reaching consensus among vendors on a spec as important as the one for reliable messaging is an important step in the market validation of the standards process for this spec."

At their first scheduled meeting in June, BEA, IBM, Microsoft and Tibco will submit their work to the WS-RX technical committee for review.

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