Global XML Web Services Architecture


Yesterday I wrote about the web services framework that Microsoft and IBM have pushed forward. That framework has taken for in the Global XML Web Services Architecture, or GXA. The architecture is apparently the product of a consortium headed by IBM and Microsoft with help from Verisign, BEA Systems, RSA Security and SAP. I frankly don't know how much of a consortium it is and how much is being driven by Microsoft, but I'm hopeful that the results won't be .NET specific. As I wrote yesterday, the goal of GXA is to fill the gaps that SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI leave in solving real business problems. GXA is being developed with the following general principals:

  • Decentralization and Federation - GXA specifications are designed with "constrained agreement" in mind.
  • Modularity - GXA is built using modular components rather than large, monolithic specifications that offer end-to-end functionality.
  • XML-Based Data Model - GXA is SOAP-based.
  • Transport Neutrality - GXA is specified entirely at the SOAP level and thus is not HTTP or message specific.
  • Application Domain Neutrality - GXA specifications are general-purpose solutions to broad problems that span application domains.

These principals are important if GXA is to sit between vertical market-specific specifications and protocols and the base SOAP protocol that provides the foundation for web services. A number of draft specifications were released for comment in December 2002. A few comments:

  • Not surprisingly, the security piece has had the most work done. Without security, there's not much hope that web services will be used for business transactions and security is a place where web services have taken a lot of lumps in the past year.
  • Also not surprising is the fact that the list of policies isn't a one-to-one match up with the framework that was proposed over a year ago. I'd expect to see all of the categories covered eventually, but they'll morph and split in funny ways as people really start to solve the problems.

I plan to investigate and write about each of these policies over the coming days.