New Consortium Formed to Promote Web Services Interoperability

Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. jointly announced a new organization designed to ensure the interoperability of Web services. The group, which will monitor the consistency of emerging standards and protocols, has received the backing of more than 40 vendors. Sun Microsystems is notably absent but hasn't ruled out joining.

Accenture, BEA Systems, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP AG, are founding members of the consortium, which is called the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I). Sun is the only major vendor with a prominent Web services strategy that has not yet come out in support of the group. According to Microsoft and IBM, Sun has been invited to join WS-I. A spokesperson for Sun says the program looks promising, and that Sun is considering membership.

In a prepared statement, Marge Breya, a vice president with Sun says, "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."

According to Sun, all of its executives are currently at an analyst meeting in San Francisco and are unavailable to elaborate further on Sun’s feelings about WS-I.

The absence of Sun from an initiative revolving around Web services is not without precedent. In fact, Sun has not played a role in developing any of the three prominent standards and protocols in the space, SOAP, UDDI and WSDL. The UDDI specification is being guided by Microsoft, IBM, HP and SAP. And SOAP and WSDL are the product of joint work between Microsoft and IBM.

Deborah Hess, a senior analyst with Gartner says, “Sun wants Web services so it's very specifically Java based.” If an initiative for Web services is not inherently Java related, Hess says Sun has been hesitant to support it, which she believes is again the case with WS-I.

Other major vendors that have announced support for WS-I, include Compaq, Daimler/Chrysler AG, Rational Software and VeriSign (For a complete list of supporting vendors, visit

The mission of WS-I will be to 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.

Hess describes interoperability as the single most important factor in the future of the Web services concept. “The success of Web services depends on how quickly we can agree on interoperability of standards.”

WS-I will rely on a suite of tools and materials for testing implementation and conformance with Web services standards, XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI. The group will also provide a road map for Web services to ensure new specifications are created and adopted by multiple standards organizations; and establish a forum to ensure testing materials support an evolving set of requirements.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.