A “high-level overview of Microsoft support for Web services across its product offerings” was recently published at MSDN. At times it sounds a bit like a superficial laundry list of specs (it really doesn’t mean much to say that a product “supports” a spec even though we all often resort to such vague statement). Also, the screen captures are not very informative. But considering the breath of material and the stated goal of providing a high-level overview this is a nice document. And if I imagine myself in the position of trying to write a similar document for HP, my appreciation for the work that went into it rises quickly.
Having all this listed in one place points out one disappointing aspect: the disconnect between Web services usage for “management and devices” and everything else Web services. If you look at the table at the bottom of the MSDN article, there is no checkbox for any management or device Web service technology in the ASMX 2.0, WSE 2.0, WSE 3.0 or WCF columns. These technologies only appear in the guts of the OS. So Vista can interact with devices using WS-Eventing, WS-Discovery and the Web services device profile, but I guess Visual Studio developers are not supposed to want to do anything with these interfaces. Similarly, Windows Server R2 provides access to its manageability information using WS-Management (actually, AFAIK it’s still an older, pre-standard version of WS-Management but we’ll pass on that), WS-Transfer, WS-Enumeration and WS-Eventing but the Visual Studio developers are again on their own to take advantage of this to write applications that take advantage of these capabilities.
This is disappointing because one of the most interesting aspects of using Web services for management is to ease integration between IT management and business applications, a necessary condition in order to make the former more aligned with the later. By using SOAP for both we are getting a bit closer than when one was SNMP and the other was RMI, but we won’t get to the end goal if there is no interoperability above the SOAP layer.
Hopefully this is only a “point in time” problem and we will soon see better support for Web services technologies used in management in the general Web services stack.
The larger question of course is that of the applicability (or lack of applicability) of generic XML transfer mechanisms (like WS-Transfer, WS-Eventing and WS-Enumeration) outside of the resource management domain. That’s a topic for a later post.