Sun snubbed in Web services spec effort

Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp., and BEA Systems Inc. are throwing another Web services party and, once again, Sun Microsystems Inc. is not on the guest list.

Sun Microsystems, despite being one of the leading systems vendors and the creator of the popular Java programming language, was not invited to participate in newly proposed Web services specifications spearheaded by IBM, Microsoft, and BEA, according to a Sun official on Friday.

Part of the standards effort, BPEL4WS (business process execution language for Web services) may even be redundant with an existing Sun plan submitted to the W3C, said Suzy Struble, manager of XML initiatives at Sun.

"We were not asked to participate," Struble said. "You'll have to ask Microsoft and IBM [about] that."

This is the second time this year that Microsoft, IBM, and BEA have formed standards initiatives and left Sun out in the cold. In February, the three companies formed the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) to promote Web services interoperability.

When it comes to the recent specifications, Sun would have wanted to see the technical work and supports convergence to promote standardization. But the company was not informed of the BPEL4WS effort, Struble said.

BPEL4WS is the union of two previously rival standards, WSFL (Web services flow language) from IBM and XLang from Microsoft. An executable language, BPEL4WS is designed to ensure that differing business processes can understand each other in a Web services environment.

Also part of the plan detailed Friday by IBM, Microsoft, and BEA was WS-Coordination, to provide a standard way of ensuring that simultaneous transactions execute correctly between systems, and WS-Transaction, to monitor business process activity.

BPEL4WS, Struble said, seems similar to the Sun-led Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI) specification, which is intended to "choreograph" events and transactions taking place between computers, applications, and services accessed over the Internet. W3C has acknowledged the WSCI submission but has not adopted it as a formal standard. BEA has participated in the WSCI submission.

It is possible BPEL4WS and WSCI could be converged, Struble said. "We would absolutely welcome that," she said.

"I think who's really getting slighted with this behavior are the consumers," Stuble said. "This work really needs to be converged. We do not need separate and diverging efforts."

A BEA official, in an e-mail response to questions, did not directly address the question of Sun's non-involvement in the new effort.

"It is our intention to work closely with Sun, as well as our other industry partners, to drive convergence of the industry around a single set of standards for automating business processes and transactions for Web services," said John Kiger, director of product marketing at BEA.

At this time, it is premature to discuss whether any standards bodies might support BPEL4WS, WS-Transaction, and WS-Coordination, according to BEA. BEA, along with Microsoft and IBM, will seek industry feedback, Kiger said.

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