We are in the middle of the public review period for the three specifications coming out of the “Web Services Discovery and Web Services Devices Profile (WS-DD)” OASIS technical committee. The specifications are:
- WS-Discovery Version 1.1
- Devices Profile for Web Services Version 1.1
- SOAP-over-UDP Version 1.1 (to support the multicast mechanism in WS-Discovery)
This trio has been swirling around for many years. Mostly in the USB/PnP/UPnP community (devices physically attached to Windows boxes) but they have popped up on the enterprise WS-* radar screen from time to time, for two reasons:
- WS-DD as another specification (in addition to WS-Management and the later incarnations of WS-MeX) who uses WS-Transfer, and therefore as a (poor, in my view) justification for making it a stand-along specification
- WS-Discovery as potentially useful for datacenter management (for resource discovery, obviously)
Looking at the members list for the technical committee seems to confirm the suspicion that many members would be more interested in the potential datacenter-related applications (of WS-Discovery, presumably) than the USB gadgets use cases: CA, IBM, Novell, Progress, RedHat, Software AG, WSO2. Well, I guess Novell and RedHat could be in the game from the perspective of plugging devices into desktops running their version of Linux rather than from a datacenter perspective. CA and IBM could be in it from an Asset Management (for devices) perspective too. So who knows (if you had no tolerance for idle speculations you wouldn’t be reading blogs, would you?).
In any case, no Apple, Palm, RIM, Google (Android) or Sun (JavaFX). I guess handheld devices aren’t the devices targeted here. Rather it’s more printers and cameras. In which case you have to wonder why HP isn’t there but that’s another question (I’ll pretend not to know).
No point dwelling on this, especially since the member list is a very imperfect representation of the actual participation. As an alternative we can scan the mailing list archive to see who is active. Judging from the last two months (feb 2009, march 2009) it’s Microsoft, Microsoft and that company in Redmond. Microsoft, as we know, created these specifications from the start and they seem to still be the engine.
In the end it remains to be seen if WS-Discovery has any role to play in datacenter infrastructure discovery. That environment is clearly becoming more dynamic, but the most frequent changes will take place at the level of the guest VM (creation of new instances) and above (applications, services…) and all these creations will presumably be orchestrated by some controller so there is little need for a “hello world” resource-initiated discovery mechanism for them.
Which leaves the physical equipment. Do we need WS-Discovery to get from the point of a server being plugged to the point where it has been provisioned? There are alternatives in this somewhat homogenous environment. And UDP multicast only takes you so far in a datacenter (at lest without extensions). So my guess is no. But who knows. The drafts are here for you to review if you think it may be relevant.