IBM lends support for Linked Data standards through W3C group
IBM is excited to be part of a new standards effort kicking off at W3C, the Linked Data Platform Working Group, which was announced on May 9, 2012. This group will help realize Tim Berners-Lee's vision of a web of interrelated data. This standard will drive the evolution of Web 3.0, enabling new levels of application interoperability and data integration, while making data openly linked and accessible in the form of web pages.
Tim Berners-Lee introduced the concept of Linked Data with four simple rules that encourage people to apply the basic tenets of the World Wide Web to data publication. In the web of documents, web pages are identified by a unique address (URL) which is used to retrieve the page using a standard protocol (HTTP) in a standard format (HTML). URLs are also used to link related pages to one another. Linked Data builds on this concept, identifying data with a URL and using HTTP to access it. It adds a standard format for representing data (RDF), and uses URLs to link related data. The goal is to create a web of data and enable a new and more powerful type of application utilizing links to explore the relationship between data resources on the web.
When information is exposed as Linked Data, applications can easily access it and find related information by navigating from one data source to another. For example, IBM Watson's reasoning engine is fed with information from DBpedia which provides Wikipedia's content in RDF format. The BBC also pulls data from DBpedia for its online music catalog, leveraging the effort of the Wikipedia community to develop and maintain that information. With Linked Data businesses can selectively expose or outsource data, depending on business need, just as they make similar outsourcing decisions about their businesses.
As part of the Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) initiative, IBM has promoted the use of Linked Data as an architectural style for integrating a suite of applications and incorporated it in our products. We have found that Linked Data presents some unique characteristics, such as being distributed and scalable, that makes it particularly well suited to integrating enterprise applications.
Linked Data is also a foundation for several IBM products. For example, Rational uses Linked Data in its application lifecycle management (ALM) portfolio. A change request becomes a resource (exposed as RDF) which is linked to the defect it is to address, and to the test that will validate the change. The change management, defect management, and test management tools then can directly accessing these resources using industry standard HTTP rather than using application specific or proprietary interfaces. This enables our customers to experience enhanced efficiency and collaboration across development and operations organizations.
We have extended this integration to include Rational and Tivoli products, in the domains of ALM and integration system management (ISM), and believe that this technology is broadly applicable across the IT industry. With this working group, a formal definition of Linked Data will be developed based on Tim Berners-Lee's four principles, providing the industry with the foundation to develop enterprise solutions based on Linked Data.
This new work group is chartered to produce a W3C recommendation for HTTP-based (RESTful) application integration patterns using Linked Data. To seed and accelerate this important work, in March IBM and its partners submitted the Linked Data Basic Profile specification to W3C.
About the author
Arnaud Le Hors is IBM's Linked Data Standards Lead and a member of IBM software standards group, responsible for driving the coordination of several IBM standards activities from a strategic and technical point of view. Arnaud has been working on open standards for 15 years, both as a staff member of the X Consortium and W3C and as a representative for IBM. He has been involved in every aspect of the standards development process, including technical, strategic, political, and legal, both internal and external to an SDO and to a company like IBM. Arnaud was involved in the development of standards such as HTML and XML and one of the lead architects for Xerces, the XML parser developed by the Apache Software Foundation.