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Microsoft, others put OData Web protocol up for OASIS standardization

The OData protocol, associated with JSON and REST efforts, started with Microsoft but may be expanded by the OASIS standards group.

OData is a Web protocol that heretofore has been of interest to a relatively small circle of friends, but that may change as Microsoft and others cede OData specification work to the OASIS standards body. The REST-style data access format- full name “Open Data Protocol” - is based on AtomPub syndication schemes. It was originated by Microsoft and, especially in its JSON incarnation, it has proved to be a lynchpin for the Azure compute cloud.

IBM, SAP, WS02 and others late last month submitted OData to a technical committee of the OASIS consortium for interoperability standards. In recent years, REST has been a bit like the Wild West, growing successfully without much in the way of standardization, but the OData standardization move may be a step toward codifying at least some of REST.

Where .NET applications meet Java equivalents in the enterprise, OData, could become successful as a light-weight Web-like way of handling data. It was developed as part of Microsoft’s Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) effort, and, like so much of what is called “Web 2.0,” it uses URLs as pointers for data objects.

Recent interest in OData centers somewhat on versions that implement JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). JSON, which began life as a less-verbose alternative to XML schema, has been a great driver of REST use, and it is often done in the context of JavaScript programming, which continues to expand as well.

OData is finding growing use alongside JSON, observers say. OASIS standardization could drive best practices, and formalize data access in Web applications and cloud computing applications.

 “What is responsible for much of the current increase of OData implementations are JavaScript-compatible JSON implementations,” said Roger Jennings, principal consultant of OakLeaf Systems. JavaScript is finding more and more use, he noted, both in Microsoft and non-Microsoft settings.

While there are marked dissimilarities in their technical implementations, the fact that OData has backing from both Microsoft and IBM makes it somewhat akin to SOAP. That standard greatly influenced the growth of Web services, providing interoperability across heterogeneous platforms including Cobol, .NET and Java. The bellwether SOAP RPC is the antithesis of JSON and REST and, by extension, OData.

With firms as diverse as Microsoft, IBM, SAP and WS02 behind it, OData bears watching.

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