A topic we are exploring in the ETTK group is the use of semantics in Web services. We hope to release a major upgrade of the Semantic Tools for Web Services package in the not to distant future and we have published a proposal on alphaWorks for adding semantics to Web services descriptions. It is called WSDL-S and is a joint effort between IBM and the University of Georgia. We believe that the use of Web services in support of application and business integration will soon reach a point where the problems being attacked are so complex that additional help will be needed to solve them.
Many, including our team, have been exploring the potential of attaching semantics to WSDL so the data being exchanged and the operations being performed are well understood by the two sides of the integration. This enables (semi) automation of discovery, composition, mediation and monitoring of services. Still while there are enthusiastic supporters of this notion, many in the Web services community are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
One of our colleagues in the development of the WSDL-S proposal is Dr. Amit Sheth of the University of Georgia. He has take up the issue of how and when semantics will make a difference to Web services. His latest blog entry, Can semantics make Web Services more useful for business contains some interesting observations that I encourage you to read.