OASIS Forms Committee to Develop Provisioning Standard

XML consortium OASIS has appointed a new committee to define an XML-based framework for exchanging user, resource and provisioning information. The group will hold its first meeting later this month to discuss its strategy for developing a specification that is expected to play heavily in the Web services space.

The spec., called the Provisioning Services Markup Language, will automate user and system access and entitlement rights for electronic services. This is a marked difference from most current provisioning environments, as vendors today rely mainly on proprietary APIs and data models to achieve interoperability. PSML intends to open the interfaces between multiple provisioning systems, so they can be easily linked to work together to manage resources.

For Web services developers, this is promising news, since the widespread use of Web-based components will increase the complexity of provisioning resources. Rather than provisioning a single application, players in the Web services community will have to provision a number of different components for each application.

Darran Rolls, interim chair of the PSML committee and director of technology for WaveSet Technologies, says it is unreasonable to expect that in a large enterprise or service provider environment, only one provisioning systems is being used to provide services to customers. As such, he believes a standard like PSML is critical if organizations are going to be able to provide their customers the services they demand at a low cost.

“For a person to access resources, a bunch of things have to happen in the underlying architecture,” says Rolls. “For the service to happen for the end customer, provisioning has to happen at a number of different levels.”

PSML, says Rolls, “is a standards-based way to exchange provisioning requests.”

By opening provisioning systems to a standard way of communication, PSML will need to have robust security features to ensure the integrity of systems and resources. Rolls says, PSML will leverage existing XML security specifications, like Security Assertion Markup Language, to protect against breaches in security.

So far, the organizations collaborating on the PSML technical committee include Access360, Business Layers, Jamcracker, Novell, Oblix and Open Network Technologies. The eXtensible Resource Provisioning Management Working Group plans to submit its XRPM specification for the PSML committee to review, as do the Active Digital Profile Initiative and the Information Technology Markup Language group.

Rolls believes it is inevitable, if PSML gains widespread acceptance, that Web services providers will be using the standard. “It is the logical progression,” says Rolls. “We can draw conclusions today where PSML will have benefits, but ultimately where this thing is going is Web services.

OASIS will host an open mail list for public comment on PSML at pstc-comment@lists.oasis-open.org. The specification, which is expected to be publicly released in the second or third quarter of next year, will be available for free at www.oasis-open.org.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.