At TechEd: Microsoft rolls out WS enhancements
- By John K. Waters
Microsoft is set to release the 2.0 version of its Web
Services Enhancements for .NET (WSE or, as the Microsofties pronounce it,
''wizzy'') at the company's TechEd 2004 conference in San Diego, which runs May
Basically, WSE is an add-on to the Visual Studio .NET dev tool and the .NET
Framework. It is designed to allow developers to write and implement advanced
Web services specifications, such as WS-Security, WS-Routing and WS-Attachments,
by adding a few lines of code to their Web services applications.
New features in Version 2.0 include a policy framework, enhanced security
model, message-based programming model and support for multiple hosting
Security is a big part of the new version. The 1.0 version, which the company
released in December 2002, supported encryption with x.509 certificates and
username/password credentials. Version 2.0 adds support for Kerberos, the
cross-platform authentication and single sign-on system. WSE 2.0 enables what
Rebecca Dias, product manager for Web services at Microsoft, calls end-to-end
''When people talk about secure Web services, you hear
the term 'business-to-business' a lot,'' Dias told Programmers Report
. ''But it's not about
B2B. It's about trust-domain-to-trust-domain, and those could very well be
within the boundaries of your organization. Think about health care: Patient
records move around from organization to organization within a hospital. Certain
parts of that information need to be made available to, say, a nurse, other
parts to a doctor and other parts to the person booking the appointments. Web
services security is the only technology that exists in the marketplace that is
going to allow you to sign and encrypt different parts of that message payload
to be consumed by different end points within the system, whether those
consumers are human beings or other systems.''
WSE's enhanced security model provides a policy-driven foundation for
securing Web services across trust domains, Dias explained. It allows for the
establishment of a Trust-issuing service for retrieving and validating security
tokens. It also allows a secure conversation to be established so that
authentication and authorization of calls within a session can happen more
quickly than in more complex cryptographic operations.
From a tooling perspective, said Ari Bixhorn, product manager for Microsoft
platform strategy, WSE 2.0 is designed to simplify the developer's life.
''After we released WSE 1.0, we heard loud and clear from the VB community
that they wanted to get up and running quickly in WSE,'' Bixhorn said. ''We've
introduced samples in VB.NET in WSE 2.0. It's a small thing, but for our
bread-and-butter developers out there, it's going to be big. We've got more than
20 quickstarts in WSE 2.0, and they're in C# and VB, so it's a good source for
the VB folks as well.''
Providing Web services security is going to be simple for Microsoft
developers with the WSE add-on, Bixhorn said.
''As an add-on to Visual Studio .NET, [WSE 2.0] provides security settings
wizards that walk developers through the process of defining policy,'' Bixhorn
explained. ''The policy file is an XML-based file that's very easy to deploy as
part of the Web service, but as a VB or C# developer, you don't need to worry
about creating all of that XML yourself. It's created automatically by the
Bixhorn calls WSE 2.0 a ''speedboat'' release because, along with additional
security features, this version enables developers to keep up with the latest
Web services specs.
Microsoft also sees WSE 2.0 as a means of getting developers on the path to
Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) and Indigo, the firm's Dias said. Indigo
is the communications subsystem in Microsoft's upcoming Longhorn operating
system. Microsoft calls it a ''new breed of communications infrastructure built
around the Web services architecture.''
''In a broader sense, Indigo is service orientation at its finest,' 'said Dias.
''Basically, it is a single messaging stack for doing things like transactions,
security and message queuing. Indigo is going to radically simplify and unify
all of that into one messaging stack. One of the things we are doing with [WSE
2.0] is helping our customers to refine the Web services part of the overall
service-oriented world that we'll have in the Indigo timeframe.''
Dias encourages developers who are thinking about SOAs to ''get on the WSE
''If you're thinking about service orientation,'' she added, ''and you want to
start looking at the architecture of your system, and you want to start thinking
about what the design of the system in the Indigo timeframe is going to look
like, think about WSE,'' Dias said. ''It's a great vehicle for providing us with
feedback for core platform technology that's going to live 10 years or so
''And you can do it using the tools you already know and love,'' added
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached