Messaging key to Web services, CTOs say

Reliable messaging came to the fore last week at the InfoWorld CTO Forum in Boston as perhaps the most important missing ingredient in the Web services recipe.

Although security and orchestration often garner the most attention, several executives at the forum cited standards-based messaging as equally important to the success of Web services.

To address that issue, Adam Bosworth, chief architect and senior vice president at San Jose, Calif.-based BEA Systems Inc., revealed in his keynote speech that a forthcoming version of BEA’sWebLogic application server will include enhanced message brokering and management features.

"Web services do not support reliable messaging today," Bosworth said, explaining that systems typically either cannot handle unpredictable loads or take weeks to get the job done. "There's a solution for this, and it’s called (standards-based) messaging," he said.

Standards are currently being developed to accomplish that, including WS-Reliable Messaging, which is backed by BEA, Microsoft Corp., and IBM Corp.

Rick Carey, chief technology architect at New York-based Merrill Lynch, agreed that reliable messaging is at least as important as security.

"I can't, as an architect, allow transactions across HTTP (because it's not secure or reliable enough),” Carey said, adding that Merrill Lynch wants to be able to transport Web services by way of more than just HTTP.

"I want to be able to use something like MQ (Message Queue)," Carey said. "We've got to have transport independence."

Web services management also received buzz at the forum, as Winston Bumpus, director of open standards and technologies at Novell and co-chair of OASIS, announced that the organization has formed a technical committee to focus on Web services for managing distributed resources. The Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) technical committee will include vendors from OASIS, W3C, and the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF).

All the activity on the standards front has chief technologists divided as to whether Web services vendors are paying enough attention to customer's desires.

"Vendors are listening more because customers are telling them what they need," said Simon Pugh, vice president of infrastructure and standards at White Plains, N.Y.-based MasterCard.

Carey, however, disagreed: "I'm not sure the vendors are listening."

Another CTO contended that vendors’ bickering over standards will inhibit widespread use of Web services.

"I don’t think it will doom standardization efforts, but it will slow down the deployment of Web services," said Damian Roskill, CTO and vice president of operations at New York-based RxCentric.

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