Mike Champion on Web services reference architecture

Mike Champion is Software AG's representative to the W3C's Web Services Architecture working group. I'm in his talk right now on how "the disparate pieces of the Web services technology space - messaging, description, choreography, security, management, etc. - fit together in a reference architecture." In this clip, Mike talks about four overall impressions. First, that it's been harder than expected to arrive at an understanding of basic terms and concepts. Second, that the relationship between the services Web and the plain old Web has proved more controversial than anyone would have guessed. Third, that while the semantic Web is regarded by many as "pie in the sky," the need to broker some kind of semantic understanding across business processes is front and center. Fourth, that hammering out consensus in an environment where vendors hotly contest their interests has been...challenging.

He concludes that the group has not, as yet, made satisfactory progress toward defining a "canonical stack" -- such efforts are "somewhere between challenging and hopeless. The acronym SOAP, for example, is no longer an acronym for anything." But there are two reference architectures that correspond to different expansions of SOAP. The original, Simple Object Access Protocol, implies distributed objects made easy for programmers. The other way, Service Oriented Architecture protocol, is more abstract, not as amenable to automated tools, but "is a more powerful idea. RESTful applications are special cases of that architecture." I like how he sums this up: REST and RPC aren't (or shouldn't be) ideologies, they're tools in an engineering toolkit to be used as and when appropriate. Agreed.

As it reaches the end of its chartered lifetime, the group has no plan to re-charter in its current form. It acknowledges, he says, that the real focus of Web services standardization now lies with OASIS and the WS-I.

Update: Note to self: using the EMBED tag is a bad idea. It gets confusing when multiple video streams start playing in the aggregator, or on the Web page.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/12/10.html#a864