Software giants unite for Web services

From: John Flynn (
Date: 02/06/02

Software giants unite for Web services

By Wylie Wong
Special to ZDNet News
February 5, 2002, 2:15 PM PT

Microsoft, IBM, BEA Systems and Intel on Wednesday are expected to launch a
new industry consortium aimed at promoting Web services.
The new group--called the Web Services Interoperability Organization--plans
to educate businesses on how to build Web services and how to ensure they do
it in a compatible way, according to sources familiar with the announcement.

The consortium will promote existing and future standards defined by the
World Wide Web Consortium and the Organization for the Advancement of
Structured Information Standards (OASIS), for example. Other technology
companies are expected to join the organization, the sources said.

Representatives for BEA, IBM, Intel and Microsoft declined to comment.

Web services allow software to be made available over the Internet to run
identically on multiple devices, such as PCs and cell phones.

Early Web services have allowed people to access stock quotes from cell
phones, for instance. But companies envision a much grander future. For
example, scheduling a plane flight could trigger a cascade of actions that
would assemble different options that tie in with hotels, frequent-flyer
programs and other related services.

Most major software makers, including Sun Microsystems and Oracle, are
racing to build and sell software that allows companies to build Web
services. Microsoft next week will launch its Visual Studio.Net software
development tool for building Web services. Java supporters, such as Sun,
Oracle, IBM and BEA, are supporting an alternative way to build Web services
based on the Java programming language.

Even though Microsoft's .Net strategy competes with the Java approach, Web
services can tie both together. Giant chipmaker Intel is involved because
the company can sell more processors that run on cell phones, handheld
devices and servers if the Web services market takes off, one source said.

The goal of the new technology consortium is to reduce the confusion
customers may have over different technologies for building Web services,
one source said. While most software companies support the same set of
established Web services standards, each advocates a different approach to
building Web services applications.

The technology companies have worked together to build standards that serve
as the underlying plumbing for Web services. These include XML (Extensible
Markup Language), a standard for data exchange and allows competing
technologies to communicate and work together; Simple Object Access
Protocol, which describes how Web services communicate over the Internet;
Web Services Description Language, which describes what the Web services are
and how to access them; and Universal Description, Discovery and
Integration, which serves as an online Yellow Pages that lets businesses
register, advertise and find Web Services.

But there are different versions of the SOAP specification available, for
example, which could lead to incompatible software, developers warn.
Analysts believe that Web services compatibility is crucial for the
technology to succeed. Without it, adoption will be slow. The new consortium
plans to give more details about its plans Wednesday.

"This organization serves as the guiding factor for companies," one source
said. "They want to implement UDDI, SOAP and WSDL but don't understand how.
It's kind of a way to get a better understanding on how to group certain Web
services standards together, so they can work well together and
interoperate. Their focus is to drive the overall success and adoption of
Web services."

John Flynn
(703) 284-4612
DAML Integration and Transition PM
BBN Technologies

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : 03/26/02 EST