WS-Madness

OK, I think it is time to stop all the WS-Madness.

Web services standards have become a complete joke. As far as I can see, there are now at least 70 (seventy) web services standards and drafts – more than anyone could humanly want, and enough to create chaos, and completely negate the advantages of standards in the first place. Standards are supposed to increase choice, but with so many the likelihood is it will actually REDUCE choice (do you support standards 27, 39 and 40? no, I support 23, 42 and 63 though, any good?).

So, who is to blame for this debacle? Well, the blame is pretty evenly spread. Perhaps the most obvious target is the vendors, who have unashamedly used WS standards as a battleground to try to create differentiation from competition. So, by creating a standard that fits in with ones own design, it is then possible to use this as a reason for rejecting other players. However, vendors are easy targets – but are they really the villains here? After all, you could argue that they are just doing what they have to do – trying to compete, to win business and pay their employees / shareholders. The next obvious choice is the standards bodies themselves. Sadly, there are many ‘professional’ standards body members who get intellectual kudos from defining standards – whether they are worth anything or not. But even this may be missing the point.

Perhaps, instead, blame should be turned on users. The vendors have stepped in because of two things – the opportunity created by the desire for standards in the SOA space, and the vacuum resulting from the failure of users to take an active role. Similarly, standards bodies have leapt into the void because in a way they have to generate standards to have any worth in the world. But the real accusation is that the standards are rubbish – most are immature, many are useless or pedantic. In other words, they do not add value for SOA users and implementers. And isn’t this a case of users getting what they asked for? If users don’t want to get involved to ensure the RIGHT standards are created, that really mean something to users, then they cannot complain when others jump in to fill the vacuum.

My advice to users on web services standards is to ignore all but the important ones – SOAP, WSDL, WS-Security, and maybe WS-Addressing although this is not as mature as the other three. Then take a more active role to ensure these standards mature into what you actually NEED.

Steve