WSO2 product exposes data as RESTful Web resources - David Worthington

October 3rd 2008, Dave Worthington, SD times

Data services are emerging as a secure alternative to the bête noir of privacy and security watchdogs: the sharing of sensitive data on physical media. A developer of Web services infrastructure software has released an open-source solution for creating data services that it says is are more straightforward than other solutions.

WSO2 today announced the immediate availability of WSO2 Data Services, which lets database programmers expose data as Web Services Standards-based, representational state transfer (REST)-style Web resources. It works with any relational database that is accessible via the Java Database Connectivity standard, as well as with comma-delineated-value file formats and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

Last year, a U.K. government CD containing personal data on 25 million people was lost in the mail and was never recovered, touching off a political firestorm. That snafu could have been avoided had the British government set up a data service to share such information directly from its database, said WSO2's CTO Paul Fremantle.

Creating data services is often easier said than done, however, because database programmers are in unfamiliar territory when using XQuery and XSL Transformations (XSLT), he said.

Fremantle described WSO2 Data Services as a quick-and-dirty solution. “We started with KISS [keep it simple, stupid]; they take what they know—an SQL query or a stored procedure—and map it into a system.”

James Governor, principal analyst and founder of RedMonk, said in a prepared statement that “heavyweight industry standards for data integration are not being widely deployed because of their inherent complexity. WSO2 is addressing this complexity with its Data Services tooling, which is designed for both XML Web services and more lightweight, REST-style resources.”

WSO2 Data Services provides a caching and throttling solution for accessing databases—features that Fremantle said are first steps toward more-advanced features. Multiple data services may be exposed as a single service in this initial release, which Fremantle said is a precursor to Master Data Management. Future versions may also implement XQuery and XSLTs on top of the basic offering.

“We are an open-source project and will release early and often,” he said. For the current release, he said, people told WSO2 they needed a solution that would make data useful in a SOA.

“We are not trying to boil the ocean,” Fremantle quipped. “This [release] is not a Rolls-Royce … it is like a Ford Fiesta with security and airbags, but no toaster and mini-bar.”

WSO2 offers a utility to convert XML-based files from Data Services into scripts that can be leveraged by its PHP data services library, which was released in September.