March 1, 2005
Web Services in Smartphones - Part 1
In this first article, we will explore some of the opportunities for Web services for the mobile industry and discuss some of the standardization activities. The second article will cover roadmaps and use case examples, mainly for Series 60 devices.

Why Web services - and why in mobiles?

Web services are often promoted as one of the most promising emerging technologies, particularly for enterprises. Certainly, interoperability between different types of platforms is attractive. Systems exchanging information with each other offer users more convenience when using smarter services and are major reasons why the mobile industry has joined forces with IT vendors, systems integrators, enterprises and developers to promote the concept. Mobile workers and consumers would benefit from easier access and data consumption, with less effort on their part and more focus on their consumption of actual services.

Web services may also be a suitable technology for telematics, as well as for task management for mobile workforces. Web services technology is suitable for use in logistics, sales automation and other interactive tasks, where device-based clients are able to connect to enterprise servers to report on status and obtain instructions. As long as a person moves about within one single legal entity, Web services can be adopted fairly quickly.

As for business-to-business and business-to-consumer use cases, it is reasonable to expect a somewhat slower adoption, since business agreements, enhanced security and privacy must be in place before deployments can occur. Liberty Alliance (www.projectliberty.org) is an organization that, in addition to technical specifications, aims to help ease the adoption of Web services by providing guidelines for both business practices and privacy.

Web services standardization landscape

The standardization efforts of core Web service protocols are still in the early stages and the work to provide specifications is performed both in open organizations and in private initiatives. This causes some confusion in the market place and for this reason it is important to work persistently to:
  • Stimulate earlier submission of Web services protocols to be specified in open organizations
  • Support the adoption of interoperable Web service solutions by participating in conformance test events and use testing tools to verify compliance.
Leading standards organizations include Liberty Alliance, which recently announced the first draft specification of ID-WSF 2.0, with a roadmap towards the final specification, OASIS (www.oasis-open.org), which concentrates on Web services security and federation specifications and W3C (www.w3c.org), which specifies the core components of basic Web services, including XML and SOAP protocol specifications.

Profiles and guidance are needed both for lower-layer Web services protocols and for more complete Web services stacks. WS-I (www.ws-i.org)provides some guidance on lower-layer Web services protocols, including XML, WSDL, and SOAP. Currently, the WS-I Basic Profile is available, with the Basic Security Profile yet to be published. Liberty Alliance provides an Identity-based Web services framework based on actual business requirements - the specifications are currently undergoing interoperability testing. In addition, Liberty offers a conformance program to validate the interoperability of products supporting the Liberty specifications.
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