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January 4, 2004

WS- and Liberty convergence on table

Convergence between rival web services specifications for secure identity is on next year's agenda, according to IBM Corp, which is planning implementations in its software.

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM told ComputerWire it is in talks with members of the Liberty Alliance Project to establish interoperability and convergence with the WS- family of specifications, authored jointly with Microsoft Corp during 2002 and 2003.

Meanwhile, two major elements of the WS- roadmap, WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Transaction, will next year begin to appear in IBM’s WebSphere middleware brand.

IBM’s director of dynamic eBusiness technology Karla Norsworthy predicted security, interoperability, transaction and reliable messaging would be the focus of IBM and industry activity in 2004.

Many in the industry believe next year will finally see many web services standards such as the WS- specifications increasingly implemented in vendors’ products.

IBM’s web services partner Microsoft, for example, is expected to put Business Execution Language (BPEL) in BizTalk Server 2004. Analyst Gartner Group believes from next year onwards, big-brand stack vendors, like IBM and Microsoft, will see their products mature, as web services standards are increasingly adopted.

Customers, meanwhile, are expected to finally roll out web services projects, moving beyond the pilot phase, and begin deployment outside of the corporate firewall. Security, it is believed, will top the list of technology priorities in the web services world.

The industry, though, has two major security initiatives in the field of federated, single sign-in with the WS- roadmap and Liberty specifications.

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A basic level of interoperability exists between the two, as they use SAML assertions, a standard ratified by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

Two frameworks, though, potentially cause a headache for enterprise developers implementing security for web services. Many today use ad-hoc XML work-arounds.

IBM earlier this year expressed a desire for convergence between WS- and Liberty, while remaining resolutely outside Liberty, backed by Liberty and a consortium of vendors and customers.

Norsworthy said Liberty provided a high-level system for identity management and was especially suited to vertical markets, while the WS- specifications provides a broad set of horizontal technologies. She said IBM is anxious to extend the functionally of WS- with Liberty’s identity management functions.

IBM has been working with members of Liberty to understand the level of interoperability and convergence between these specifications, Norsworthy said. Hopefully we will see something in that direction soon.

For its part, Liberty has in the past indicated interest in working with WS- specifications, but expressed belief in the group’s continued existence as an organization.

This article is based on material originally produced by ComputerWire.

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