Sun, webMethods land WS-I board seats

Sun Microsystems and webMethods will sit on the board of the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), but questions are surfacing about the possibility of progress given the length of the board’s roll sheet.

Mark Hapner, Sun’s chief Web services strategist, and Andy Astor, vice president of enterprise Web services at webMethods, won the two board seats. When the new term begins April 1, they will join representatives of WS-I founding members Accenture Ltd., BEA Systems Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., and SAP AG.

Cape Clear , Nokia, SeeBeyond, and VeriSign were unsuccessful in bids to serve on the board.

WS-I was formed in February 2002, at which time Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun was not offered a seat and thus did not participate until joining the membership last fall. In last week’s election, Sun gained a two-year seat and webMethods a one-year seat in the group, which is developing profiles and recommended practices for using Web services. Founding members have permanent seats.

"We would have preferred a permanent seat," Hapner said. "At this point we’re working within the charter of the organization, and our plan is to make a strong contribution, playing an important role."

Fairfax, Va.-based WebMethods wants to extend WS-I to include more end-users, Astor said.

"We think it’s really important to extend the membership to end-user companies, IT organizations, (and) systems integrators," he said.

The companies’ election to the board validates Sun and webMethods as important players in the Web services standards arena, said Ted Schadler, principal analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

"Sun in particular had been, going back two years, kind of a nonplayer in setting the standards for Web services, and lots of customers said, ‘What about Sun? They’re the keeper of Java. Why aren’t they at the table for Web services?’ Now, they’re at the table, … and they’re one of the players in the driver’s seat," Schadler said.

But the size of the board, now 11 members, could make it unwieldy, according to Schadler. "The board is very big, and big boards have trouble moving," he said.

WS-I is getting set for a May release of its Basic Profile 1.0, which focuses on building Web services using SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI, Hapner said.

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