Monday, January 2, 2006

2006 prediction #1: web service standards

Back in September I wrote that web services appeared to move away from WS-* protocols and standards. Looking back now I was partly right. It is certainly so that, especially with the emergence of Ajax and Web 2.0 in the second half of 2005, other non WS-* protocols have gained attention and are used more widely. In fact, both Ajax and Web 2.0 rely more on POX (Plain Old XML) and REST, than on WS-Security, WS-Transaction or WS-I and the like. What will further happen with web service protocols and standards in 2006?

The WS-* and more lightweight standards like POX, REST and Ajax will peacefully co-exist. As being part of an SOA and featuring heavily in the attempts by major vendors to improve their SOBA's and make them future-proof, we will need a robust framework for web services. The further elaboration of the WS-* stack can provide this, so for inter-application, inter-organization and any other service-oriented application, the WS-* will still be the best pick.
However, for services that are primarily user-centric, the best pick will be REST/POX/Ajax. Use these technologies for presenting the information that is being processed using protocols and standards from the WS-* stack.

My prediction is that both the WS-* stack and its lightweight counterpart will continue to evolve and mature, and that we will learn that these are not rival standards, but rather complementary standards that will feature heavily in organizations pursuing SOA / Web 2.0 success. Whether we like it or not, Ajax and Web 2.0 concepts are here to stay, and they provide an attractive alternative for presentation functions for which WS-* is over-bloated.

My second prediction is that the WS-* stack will be start to be consolidated in 2006, and the numbers of standards for web services will rather decrease, than increase. New joint efforts from vendors and standard bodies will be started to unify competing standards. Also, standards that overlap heavily, will be slammed together to increase the simplicity of the WS-* protocols.
Still the golden rule for WS-* standards applies: use SDKs and generators as much as possible, and do not go about adopting and implementing all WS-* standards out there. Do not even attempt to grasp all of them.

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