The Networking MVP Is ...

It's time to select the networking Most Valuable Player for 1999. Just like the MVP in a sport, my choice honors that person or persons who've done the most to further the success of their network team.

Previous winners were Novell Inc.'s Eric Schmidt (1997) and Directory Enabled Networks co-chairs John Strassner and Stephen Judd (1998).

Once again, this year the award will be shared by a number of players from the same company.

Two years ago, former Tivoli Chairman and CEO Frank Moss and Preferred Systems' co-founders Jack Serfass, Joe Sommers and David Sweet joined together to start Bowstreet Software with the idea of making business-to-business e-commerce simpler.

Along the way, they found that XML was the key to creating Web-based tools, and directory services was the key to creating Web-based relationships.

Serendipitously, Bowstreet put the two ideas together and Directory Services Markup Language (DSML) was born.

By itself, that's an achievement. But the play that insured the MVP award happened last June when Bowstreet convinced every significant player in the directory services arena that DSML was the wave of the future. Microsoft Corp., Novell, AOL-Netscape, IBM Corp., Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. all joined Bowstreet in founding the DSML.ORG group to define and promulgate the DSML standard.

These directory provider vendors were quickly joined by directory-enabled application vendors such as Mission Critical, Netegrity, NetVision, Lotus and Oblix. By December, all had signed off on Bowstreet's definition of the DSML specification and a new public standard for Web-based, directory-enabled e-commerce applications was born.

The initial specification has now been turned over to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and BizTalk for further development. OASIS is a nonprofit, international consortium considered to be the world's leading independent organization for the standardization of XML applications in e-commerce. The W3C is an international industry consortium developing protocols that promote the Web's evolution and interoperability. BizTalk is driving the rapid, consistent adoption of XML for e-commerce and application integration.

That's an achievement for a start-up and an honor for its founders.

(Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at wired@vquill.com.)

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