Companies play nice in front of W3C

IBM, Microsoft, BEA Systems and newfound partners, Sun Microsystems and SAP, have submitted to a major standards body a protocol that will help accelerate the development of other standards for building secure and reliable Web services applications.

The submission of WS-Addressing to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) marks a cooling of standards battles between Sun and the IBM/Microsoft duo.

Sun, Oracle, Iona Technologies and Nokia were developing a similar specification called WS-MessageDelivery, and the two efforts now will merge.

WS-Addressing is a foundation for several specifications that corporations are demanding for Web services, including those for security, reliable messaging, transport and process workflow.

"At each of those layers you need an addressing specification," director of dynamic e-business technologies at IBM, Karla Norsworthy, said. "So we are developing a single specification that works across them all."

WS-Addressing ensures that as messages wind their way across firewalls, gateways, multiple Web services and transport technologies, that the sender and receiver are always known. WS-Addressing also can specify how, when or if a system must acknowledge that a message successfully has made another hop across its intended path.

Norsworthy said IBM and Microsoft were glad to have Sun join in because the broad support helped fuel momentum.

It also might help align other specification development efforts. Sun is leading development on a separate process workflow specification from the one that Microsoft and IBM proposed. There are also two competing specifications for reliable messaging.

Norsworthy said the WS-Addressing specification was submitted to the W3C because that group was focusing on infrastructure specifications, such as Simple Object Access Protocol.

IBM and Microsoft had submitted network specifications such as WS-Security to the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards.

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