Sun will join WS-I only on equal terms, says exec

Sun Microsystems, the most notable absentee from the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) that was formed earlier this year by nine companies including IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp., is interested in joining the group but only on equal terms with the founders, a company executive said Thursday.

"We want to be part of WS-I but we have not been invited properly yet," John Bobowicz, chief technical strategist at Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Sun One project, said on the sidelines of the Web Services Conference, which began Thursday in Tokyo.

The company didn't have a chance to join IBM, Microsoft and seven other companies in founding the organization because it was only notified by the group of their plans to form WS-I on the evening before the announcement, he said. "We couldn't even consider it."

The companies, which also included Accenture Ltd., BEA Systems Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Intel Corp., Oracle Corp. and SAP AG, announced the formation of WS-I in early February this year and said it is designed to accelerate development and deployment of interoperable Web services.

Bobowicz's comments explain why Sun, with its strength in the Web server and application development tools markets, was not among the WS-I founders. When the group was announced, officials from IBM, Microsoft and Sun would not divulge any details behind its absence. An IBM executive said Sun had been invited to join but that unspecified legal processes had yet to be completed while Sun said it was looking into joining WS-I.

"IBM has since changed their mind and suggested that we be allowed in," said Bobowicz. "They announced to the world that they will allow two more board members but then they announce that the board members they are going to add can only have term limits of two years. IBM and Microsoft won't have term limits, so quite frankly, I don't think we are interested in those kind of games," said Bobowicz.

"Sun's approach, like with Liberty (Project Alliance), is to work with businesses, solve real business problems and then apply some policy. We think it is good that WS-I wants to build technology and I hope it solves a business problem," he said. The Liberty Project Alliance was formed to create an open, single sign-on user identity system for the Internet.

"It just seems to be a political game that, quite frankly, we don't have time for but we would love to be part of it. We are still working on it," he said.

Bobowicz was speaking just after delivering a keynote speech at the Web Services Conference. During the speech, he outlined Sun's approach to Web services and its work in the area of open standards. He was also due to outline, according to a copy of his presentation distributed to attendees, the work of IBM and Microsoft in two consecutive slides that were less then flattering about their work in the same field. However, the slides were dropped from his actual presentation.

"The reason why I skipped them was, in fairness, they are here so let them describe what they are doing," said Bobowicz. "I really want to be fair. When I talk to customers and they ask me, I can give our view of what different companies are doing but I think the importance here is to give everybody an unbiased view so it wouldn't be fair, if they are here, for me to try to represent them."

He was due, according to the presentation copy, to criticize IBM's Websphere application server for a reliance on Global Services amongst other things, and on Microsoft, was due to describe the company's .Net platform as a Y2K approach to Web services where customers are required to upgrade all their software, call C# a memory leak and a virus-enabled version of Java, and describe the company's new operating systems as moving from DLL hell to 1.0 hell.

The Web Services Conference, organized by IDG Japan Inc., runs through Friday in Tokyo and is expected to attract around 1,000 people. More information can be found at http://www.idg.co.jp/expo/wsc . IDG Japan is a subsidiary of International Data Group Inc., the parent of IDG News Service.

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