SOA Architecture, Governance, and Industry Standards in the Enterprise

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SOA Web Services XML: Why WSDM Matters

The role of WSDM in distributed IT management

The world of IT management has changed a great deal since the early days of SNMP and network management. IT organizations today are building and deploying a wide range of systems and applications that must be managed in a consistent and reliable way. Applications are being built from the ground up using service-oriented design principles, and an IT manager can no longer look to a single machine to determine the health and availability of the services being delivered. Resources are much more distributed and interconnected, and they are being deployed at an alarming rate. For IT, this poses additional challenges in having to keep track of changes and to build management solutions that can aid in linking business needs to IT.

With the variety of application platforms and technologies in use today, companies demand standardized approaches to managing these heterogeneous platforms. This is where WSDM can play an important role. WSDM, or Web Services Distributed Management, began as an OASIS Technical Committee in February 2003. For the past two years, leading management vendors have been working within the OASIS group to create a set of standards that use Web services technologies for management. OASIS officially approved a set of WSDM standards in March 2005.

In this article we take a much closer look at the various WSDM standards, the capabilities offered by some of these standards, and present some useful case studies that demonstrate the benefits of WSDM. The intention is for software architects and developers who design software that must be managed to gain a much better appreciation for the value of WSDM.

WSDM as a Management Standard
To understand WSDM, it's important to make a distinction between two key specifications that were developed in the OASIS WSDM TC.

  • The Management Using Web Services (MUWS) specification defines how any IT resource can use Web services technologies for exposing manageability interfaces.
  • The Management Of Web Services (MOWS) specification builds on MUWS and specifically addresses how a Web service resource can be managed.
In this article we'll focus primarily on MUWS because it is the foundation for managing distributed IT resources, regardless of the underlying platform or implementation technology. As Figure 1 illustrates, IT management involves both manageable resources and a manageability consumer. A manageability consumer such as an Enterprise Management System (EMS) might need to discover a resource, receive notifications of state changes, or control a resource. WSDM MUWS defines a mechanism for exposing a manageable resource with a Web services endpoint that contains control, attribute, and event capabilities.

Before providing details of the capabilities offered by WSDM, it's important to clarify the relationship to existing management standards and technologies. Because WSDM is based on Web services technologies, it relies on standards such as XML Schema, WSDL, SOAP, and WS-Addressing.

At the same time, WSDM MUWS does not impose any specific management model in its implementation. For example, DMTF's Common Information Model (CIM) provides a common definition of management information for systems, networks, and applications. Work is already underway to map CIM resource models and related operations using WSDM-MUWS (see References section, "Proposal for a CIM mapping to WSDM").

Additionally, we shouldn't think of WSDM as a management instrumentation technology. It is expected that developers would still instrument their application with JMX, WMI, or other management technology. In the case of Java, Apache open source toolkits already exist today that allow a developer to expose Java-based applications with WSDM interfaces (Apache Web Services Muse: Additionally, the Java community is in the process of creating a Web services connector that supports JMX (JSR 262: Web Services Connector for Java Management Extensions [JMX] Agents: In either case, the interface one uses for accessing a manageable resource (e.g., WSDM) can be considered separate from the technology used for instrumentation (e.g., JMX, WMI, Java, etc.).

Having these and other adapters in place will help to broaden widespread adoption of the technology. Such adapters will also make it easier for a management system to manage IT resources in a consistent, standards-based manner.

Before we dive into the details, let's better understand why WSDM is important to IT management. Because WSDM is based on Web services, you can leverage much of the basic infrastructure and tooling support already available. Using WSDM for management can take advantage of improved integration and interoperability, as well as support the basic Web services capabilities such as security, reliability, and transactions.

There are also specific benefits that can be gained for providers and consumers of IT resources.

  • For the providers of IT resources (e.g., an infrastructure provider such as a J2EE application server), WSDM MUWS offers a single interface to manageability, regardless of the instrumentation. The same interface can be reused across multiple management system vendors, thus minimizing the number of custom interfaces needed.
  • For consumers of IT resources, WSDM MUWS greatly increases the types of IT resources that can be managed. Additionally, discovery of new resources and capabilities can be done automatically at runtime.
Moving forward, we see WSDM as a key enabler to the Adaptive Enterprise. By that we mean the ability for an organization to quickly and easily respond to change through the linkages that are established between business and IT. Accomplishing this requires a cleaner separation between the services being delivered and the management of those services.

More Stories By Chris Peltz

Chris Peltz is a senior architect within HP's
Developer Resources Organization (, providing technical and architectural consulting to enterprise customers in the areas of J2EE, Web services, and
application management.

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