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Accenture, BEA, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and SAP Form Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) to Speed
Accenture, BEA, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and SAP Form Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) to Speed

(February 12, 2002) – A broad group of technology leaders have formed the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) Organization (www.ws-i.org). This cross-industry initiative is designed to accelerate the development and deployment of interoperable Web services across a variety of platforms, applications, and programming languages. WS-I, whose founders include Accenture, BEA, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and SAP, is open to all organizations committed to promoting interoperability among Web services based on industry-accepted definitions and open standards support. Will Sun be next to join? "Sun is a great supporter of industry standards and interoperability. Web services interoperability is crucial and imperative to the industry. We are currently reviewing the documentation from WS-I and inclined to join. We will announce our final decision in the near future," said Marge Breya, vice president, Sun Microsystems, in an exclusive statement to WSJ.

WS-I will provide implementation guidance to support customers deploying Web services, promote consistent and reliable interoperability among Web services, and articulate a common industry vision for Web services.

Exclusive to WSJ, we interviewed Bob Sutor, director of e-business standards strategy, IBM, for deeper background on the new group. He commented, “This came about from work IBM and Microsoft had done together with our industry partners on standards efforts. Most important, however, the need for interoperability is something that our customers made very clear to us. We have to ensure that ‘interoperability’ is not just a marketing term to associate with Web services, we need to make it real and we need to make it measurable.”

When asked if it posed any special challenge to bring together this assortment of industry rivals into one organization, Sutor noted, “No more than usual. After a lot of careful planning you have a limited time to engage with the partners and educate them on the goals of the organization and sign them up for the launch. Overall, it was an exciting experience.” WSJ asked if the group would physically meet as a committee, or will the sharing of ideas and standards occur via Internet cooperation? “Probably a combination of both,” said Sutor. “There will be a community meeting at the end of February where we will bring everyone together and form some workgroups. After that the workgroups will use e-mail, have teleconferences and have their own face-to-face meeting schedules. We will later decide the schedule for future full community meetings.”

“Ensuring that Web services implementations interoperate across heterogeneous platforms is crucial to furthering the evolution of Web services and driving customer adoption,” said Daryl Plummer, group vice president and research group director at Gartner Group. “WS-I is an expected and necessary industry initiative that will address the key issue of interoperability, which is instrumental in moving Web services to the next level of acceptance and adoption.”

More than fifty companies are signing on in support of WS-I, among them AutoDesk, Borland, Cape Clear, Compaq Computer, Corillian, Dassault Systems, J.D. Edwards, Epicentric, Flamenco Networks, the Ford Motor Company, Fujitsu, Grand Central Networks, Inc., Groove Networks, IONA, KANA, Macromedia, McAfee, Oracle, Pivotal, Plumtree, Qwest Communications, Rational Software, Reuters, Sybase, Toshiba, and VeriSign.

"Interoperability via evolving open standards is the cornerstone for Web services - that is why WS-I is crucial for ensuring the continued deployment success of Web services technology within and between enterprises," said Rod Smith, vice president of Emerging Technology, IBM. "The momentum of vendors and the cross-industry commitment behind WS-I demonstrate that the Web services community is maturing and focusing on customer needs. WS-I will speed the worldwide adoption of Web services by providing critical interoperability guidance and testing materials that work across multiple platforms."

"The cross-industry collaboration that led to the creation of WS-I is a very important step in advancing a systematic, consistent and standards-based approach to adopting and deploying new Web service technologies," said Eric Rudder, senior vice president, Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft Corporation. "The membership of WS-I shares a common vision of Web services as a critical way to cross the boundaries between platforms, applications and programming languages. The benefits and value of Web services for customers and partners cannot be overstated."

To assist in ensuring interoperability of Web services, WS-I will initially create a suite of tools and materials for testing implementation and conformance with "basic level" Web services standards: XML, SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI. These testing capabilities are important so customers can ensure that their implementations comply with the best-practices use of these Web services specifications. Tests will be self administered and aimed at uncovering unconventional usage or errors in specification implementations, thus improving interoperability between applications and across platforms.

As Web services mature and gain mainstream momentum, the need for additional capabilities will arise that are not fully addressed in the current Web services standards. To meet these needs, WS-I will publish an architectural roadmap for identifying functional areas and capabilities that need to be addressed in future Web services specifications. As new specifications are created and adopted by the multiple standards organizations to enhance current Web service capabilities, WS-I will provide a forum to ensure testing materials support the evolving set of requirements and their interdependencies.

Related Articles

W3C Sets Record Straight On New Web Services Alliance:
"WS-I Is Not a Competitor to W3C...They're Choosing Specs, Not Building Them"

If Only Santa Had Listened to Those Web Services Experts…

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