Sun official urges convergence on Web services

Competing proposals on multiple Web services choreography specifications should be deliberated on by an industry standards organization, not by individual vendors each pursuing their own path, a Sun Microsystems Inc. official said Wednesday at the SunNetwork 2002 conference here.

Noting competing efforts for choreography of Web services, to boost business-to-business transactions, Sun's Mark Bauhaus, vice president of Java Web services, stressed the need for industry unity.

"There's an opportunity for the industry to fragment, for the industry to get into a p****ng match," Bauhaus said. But there is a need for convergence and Sun plans to pursue this in a standards organization, he said. Sun is active in standards bodies such as OASIS and W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), Bauhaus noted.

There have been discussions about having appropriate standards for Web services choreography within business-to-business transactions and for internal, intra-corporate communications, said Bauhaus.

"What we'd like to do is get these into a royalty-free, open environment," Bauhaus said.

Sun in August submitted to W3C a proposed specification called Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI), for an XML-based interface description language to describe the flow of messages exchanged in Web services. The proposal was considered important for Web services in areas such as e-business.

Shortly thereafter, IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., and BEA Systems Inc. released details of a proposed specification called Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS), to serve a similar purpose. BPEL4WS has not been submitted to a standards body.

Last week, the W3C Web Services Architecture Working Group, at the request of Oracle, recommended forming a new working group to ponder convergence of Web services choreography specifications. The vote was affirmative, although Microsoft reportedly voted against it, and BEA and IBM reportedly abstained. BEA also has participated in WSCI. Sun officials on Wednesday would not say how Sun voted on the measure, but Bauhaus said the Oracle proposal represented a step in the right direction.

An analyst said Microsoft and Sun were vying for the hearts and minds of developers in the area of Web services.

"Basically, Web services is supposed to be based on certain standards and everybody buys into [them]," said analyst Jean Bozman, vice president of IDC, in Mountain View, Calif.

But old rivalries between Sun and Microsoft continue, she said.

"Sun and Microsoft would both like as many developers as possible to join their camp. There's no question about it," Bozman said.

However, "There really has to be universal standards. It can't be like Beta and VHS," she said.

Bauhaus also said there were "fatal flaws happening" in the current Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), but he did not elaborate. WS-I was formed by IBM, Microsoft, and BEA, without Sun.

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