Thursday, November 16, 2006

Convergence of WS-Management and WSDM

JSR-262 which addresses support for Webservices Connector for the JMX Agents, is targeted for Java SE 7 (2008 spring). There are currently two competing webservices-based management standards: WS-Management and WSDM. There is currently an effort in progress to reconcile the two standards into one. But this reconciliation effort is going to take sometime to complete (and the guesstimate is it can be ready by 2008). The bottom layers of the convergence proposal are the existing standards WS-Transfer, WS-Enumeration, and WS-Eventing. JSR-262 chose to implement the Webservice connector using the existing WS-Management standard primarily because it seems to be the most backwards compatible approach possible. For reasons, read here. The idea behind this JSR-262 effort of providing a Webservice connector to the JMX agents is to enable management in hetrogeneous environments where the management host does not support JMX technology (say a management client written in C#). So once your JSR-77 MBeans are exposed via a JSR-262 Webservices connector, you could write a perl or ruby or C# client to talk to the MBean.

Recently after having passed the Sun certified developer for Java Webservices exam (CX-310-220) i wanted to use my learning of webservices building blocks to learn further on how webservices could be used for network management. I have learnt about such a possibility when i was working with HP when they decided to embed the webservice called IXA (XDM Access interface) [XDM means XML data model] in the firmware of the network module for printers. This approach had a strong group of supporters within HP. Till the time i was working with HP, they had already implemented the read-only interface to part of the management objects. And i found that even though it was easier to understand the benefits of this approach to managing the printers (over the traditional SNMP way), implementation was challenging stuff primarily because of less education among the firmware developers for technologies like XML namespaces, schema, etc. But the message was clear to me that sooner than later, webservices will surely be the way to manage the network elements and services. I will blog separately on the advantages of Webservices over traditional approaches like SNMP. For the moment, i just needed to highlight the fact that the webservice-based management specs are still far from final and by the year 2008 we should see some devices and servers implementing support for the webservices way of management. Atleast for Java App Servers, it is clear that JSR-262 will evolve then to support the then latest spec of converged WS-Man and WSDM standards. So for folks (like me) who want to specialize in systems management domain, will certainly want to track the progress of this convergence. IBM maintains the convergence progress drafts at its site.

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