XML provisioning gets real

The Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML) is moving quickly through the OASIS ( process with adoption just weeks away and implementations expected in products by this fall, predicts Phil Schacter, vice president and service director at the Burton Group (

Members of the Boston-based OASIS standards consortium, including PeopleSoft and Sun Microsystems, will demonstrate business applications of SPML next week at the Burton Group's Catalyst Conference in San Francisco.

Schacter sees three categories of SPML implementations using the XML standard. In the first category, the application communicates to the provisioning system using standard XML. An example of this would be an administrator adding a new employee in a PeopleSoft system, he explained.

"It would pump out this XML blog to the provisioning system and, as a result, it would create the accounts on the Windows Server and the mainframe and various Unix systems," Schacter told XML Report. "It would basically give the new employee the tools to do his job with access to the right applications, systems and resources. And equally important, at the time when that person leaves the company, it's easy to de-activate all those accounts, so you don't leave a glaring security hole."

The second category of SPML applications will be in large enterprises where account creation and maintenance will need to be done with multiple provisioning systems involving a variety of organizations.

"This provides a standard XML way to describe the account that needs to be created or the account maintenance activity that you want to occur on the system and communicates that over XML, potentially as a Web service bounded to SOAP and WS-Security," Schacter explained. "It give you a degree of interoperability that frees you from the local semantics of one provisioning system vs. another. It has an interoperability value proposition between systems."

The third category of SPML applications will be in what Schacter describes as "the B2B or extranet realm," where XML would be used for creating persistent accounts in Web services with which an enterprise system is interacting. An example would be a customer transaction that needs to be fulfilled via a Web service offered by a business partner requiring persistence, he explained.

"Maybe the ground rules of the fulfillment site is that it wants to maintain a relationship beyond the single transaction, so it requires some persistent information to be exchanged to create an account on the other system," Schacter said. "You would be able to use the SPML format to help you create those persistent relationships."

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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