Position Paper for W3C Workshop On XKMS

Mark Curtis
Research & Standards Group
Chief Technology Office
Reuters Limited, London


Reuters Position

Reuters core business is information and transactional services (view and do paradigm). As a global information, news and technology group, Reuters supplies news, information and value-added services in more than 20 languages to over 1400 websites worldwide. In addition, Reuters plays a significant role in the functioning of the financial markets. Reuters mission is to make the financial markets work on the Internet on a global scale.

Reuters leverages the Internet by applying proven architectural models (e.g. application or end-to-end service provider) to their own unique requirements. This strategy encompasses providing financial online trading and information services (e.g., risk management or securities trading) by migrating traditional desktop applications into a more flexible service-based architecture, i.e. an architecture decomposed into end-user services, business process services and data services.

The concept of trust is well understood in Reuters, reflected in a corporate set of trust principals. In the past Reuters customers have placed a high degree of trust in Reuters products and services because they have been delivered over a secure, high availability, private network. A challenge for the future is to achieve the same level of trust in products and services delivered over open networks such as the Internet.

From a Reuters perspective the XML Key Management Specification (XKMS) [XKMS01], appears to be an ambitious, innovative and more importantly usable approach to the delivery of the trust services required to support Reuters products. One of Reuters roles in the financial market place is to provide an open environment for the integration and aggregation of Reuters and third party products and services to provide both an enhanced and simplified user experience. A standards based trust framework is viewed as an essential component of the overall Reuters product delivery architecture.


Reuters XKMS Service Challenges

Trust services are of strategic importance for Reuters and its clients. However, there are a number of challenges Reuters has to face during the development and implementation of trust, such as:

Acceptance: Reuters operates in a global market, offering services to customers having diverse and stringent requirements in the area of trust. Customer acceptance is viewed as a key success criteria, which can only be meet by a framework which exhibits both flexibility and rigour in it application.

Usability: Complexity is often seen as a barrier to adoption. In developing its Internet architecture Reuters has constantly applied the heuristic of ‘simplify, simply, simplify’. To be usable, XKMS must simplify the development of web based products and services, and as such must not present overly complex interfaces.

Interoperability: The potential scope of XKMS is wide, suggesting that interoperability will need to be achieved at a number of functional levels and in a number of different business contexts. In particular trust assertions may be generic or domain specific in their application, emphasizing the importance of rules defining their use that are both interpretable and qualified in a business context.

Interoperability is not only important at a trust level but also from a generic web service level. Reuters is a particularly interested in the orchestration of XKMS with other B2B web services such as ebXML compliant services [ebX99] and UDDI discovery services [UDDI00]

Architectural Consistency: In developing Reuters Internet architecture it has often been noted that there is significant overlap in scope in the standards that we are looking to adopt. Ensuring that the scope of a particular standard, and resulting web service, is clearly defined reduces the risk of duplicate, additional cost and confusion in delivery and integration.


Reuters Expectations from the W3C Workshop

Reuters has been aware of the progress of XKMS and has carried out preliminary architectural studies to determine how it would fit in Reuters Internet architecture. In particular Reuters has already adopted and extended web service concepts, the introduction and leveraging of XKMS based trust services to support in particular Reuters trading activities has much to recommend it. This highlights the need for additional standards to implement a richer and more complete set of web services. Reuters expectations are as follows:

  • Clarification: Further clarification on the above-mentioned XKMS service related challenges and learn more about the latest developments on XKMS service topics.
  • Commitment: A strong commitment from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and its members working towards XKMS standards.
  • Vision: A clear vision and roadmap from the W3C to unify XKMS related recommendations into vendor neutral, interoperable efforts.
  • Participation: Active participation, knowledge sharing among all workshop participants and contribution to the ongoing XKMS discussion.

How can Reuters contribute?

Reuters has strong views on XKMS and can contribute to the debate in many ways:
  • The role and scope of XKMS in facilitating eCommerce, in particular in supporting B2B electronic services
  • Overlap of XKMS with other related standard initiatives
  • Global business and operational issues associated with running an XKMS services
  • Building global IT solutions using web services such as XKMS


XKMS represents an innovative and usable approach to the delivery of trust services. Reuters migrating to a flexible, open, web service-based architecture, trust services are seen as a key component. To date trust technology solutions have been viewed by the business requirement owners as immature and in some cases as technical solutions looking for a business requirement. XKMS has the potential to provide business driven trust solutions facilitating the development of open, interoperable, web service-based architectures.



[XKMS01] XKMS – XML Key Management Specification
Warwick Ford, Philip Halam-Baker, Barbara Fox, Blair Dillaway, Brain LaMaccia, Jeremy Epstein, Joe Lapp.
30 March, 2001.
[ebX99] ebXML.ORG.
Electronic Business XML (ebXML).
September 1999.
[UDD00] UDDI Executive White Paper
September 2000.