Overview of WS-* standards.
SOAP and WSDL are the foundation of big web services.
However, SOAP in itself does not provide much more than a simple message transport mechanism.
Application level functionality like transactions, reliable messaging and security of the message transfer is defined in a range of web service standards commonly referred to as WS-*.
This WS-stack is defined by the standardization organizations W3C and OASIS and provides a framework and toolbox for constructing web service architectures.
The WS-Stack addresses almost any conceivable need in an application that makes use of web services for distributed computing. The downside of the WS-* standards is added complexity and interoperability issues.