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RE: Head's up on Intermediaries

From: Ugo Corda <UCorda@SeeBeyond.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 20:10:07 -0800
Message-ID: <EDDE2977F3D216428E903370E3EBDDC9032B89AD@MAIL01.stc.com>
To: "Francis McCabe" <frankmccabe@mac.com>, <public-ws-chor@w3.org>
Hi Frank,
While I agree with you regarding the importance of intermediaries and the fact that in many cases they should not be overlooked by choreography, I have a couple of points to make.
> a service involving intermediaries is a composite service. 
I don't think that is necessarily true in the general case. Intermediaries can perform activities on behalf of the service client, the service provider or a third party. In the case of intermediaries working for third parties (e.g. monitoring network traffic) it would not be very meaningful, in my opinion, to see them as logically part of the same composite service that includes the actual service.
The second point I want to make is the fact that choreography depends on WSDL, more than on SOAP, and, unfortunately, WSDL has virtually no intermediaries support so far. So talking about them through WSDL is currently quite hard.

-----Original Message-----
From: public-ws-chor-request@w3.org [mailto:public-ws-chor-request@w3.org]On Behalf Of Francis McCabe
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2003 10:16 AM
To: public-ws-chor@w3.org
Subject: Head's up on Intermediaries

Hi y'all 
Just thought that you may want to consider something in the choreography space. 
Recently the WSA has been wrestling with intermediaries. 

There are at least two camps here: those who wish that they didn't exist and those who think that there might be something interesting in them. (Personally I belong to the latter camp). 

An important note to clear up any potential misunderstanding: despite the name, intermediaries *do not* imply separate agents doing processing of messages. 

What follows is a mixture of speculation and rational reconstruction. 

Intermediaries is an idea proposed in SOAP 1.2 (and therefore is a W3C recommendation) 

1. One view of intermediaries is that they *are* separate processing entities that focus on messages' headers. A crucial property of this view of intermediaries is that the messages that they spit out are considered to be the *same* messages that they receive. 
I use the term considered judiciously: outgoing messages are, in effect, declared to be equivalent to corresponding input messages. 

This interpretation of intermediaries tends towards a `poor man's choreography'; may still be useful but limited in scope. 

2. A second view, partly suggested by the SOAP 1.2 spec itself, paints a somewhat grander view. The best way I know of approaching this is via structured messages: 

A message has elements which are standardized separately and then combined into a whole document. A simple example of this is customer authentication: the tokens necessary are captured in a standard form, supported within SOAP by means of a standardized header. All customer authentications (whatever the purpose of the actual message is) are handled in the same way. 
This standardization permits a kind of factoring that is quite interesting: the different stakeholders in an organization may wish to inspect messages from their particular standpoint and standardized headers facilitate that. 

This leads to a kind of architecture for delivering Web services that might be called Document Centric Middleware: a Web service may be delivered via a collaboration of specialized processors that each process a particular aspect of a message/document. Many (all) of these specialized processors have relatively simple - and standardized across the Enterprise -- functions. The 'slave' processors may be called intermediaries and the 'master' processor may be called the ultimate recipient. 

What does this mean for WS-CHOR? 

1. Intermediaries should be taken seriously. They represent a powerful way for an enterprise to structure their services in a manageable way. 
2. Services can not be regarded as simple monolithic lumps that have no internal structure. This is true whether you take the simple interpretation or the rich interpretation of intermediaries. 
3. The layered approach to message structure implies that, whether we like it or not, we have to address service composition: a service involving intermediaries is a composite service. 


P.S. Happy Thanksgiving! 
Received on Sunday, 30 November 2003 23:10:08 UTC

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