Web services vendors seek common ground

Web services vendors agree as often as they disagree about each other's products.

Adam Bosworth of BEA Systems Inc. predicts that within a few years, people won't debate Web services any more than they debate TCP/IP today.

'You're watching a glorified debate about plumbing,' said Bosworth, senior vice president and chief architect of advanced development for the San Jose, Calif., software company.

At a recent trade conference in Washington, Bosworth joined representatives from IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. in endorsing Extensible Markup Language and three specifications: Simple Object Access Protocol; Web Services Description Language; and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI). Together, they let applications talk to each another across private networks or the Internet.

Bosworth said BEA Systems focuses on development tools. Robert Sutor, IBM's director of Web services technology, said his company emphasizes integration services around open standards.
Ted Farrell, Oracle's director of strategy for application development tools, said his company has built Web services into products such as Oracle9i Application Server.

The minimum technology to get started with Web services includes an application server, a database and some kind of software development tool. 'You have choices all along the way,' Farrell said.

A simple text editor can code for a Web service, said Neil Charney, Microsoft's director of the .Net platform strategy. 'You really don't need any of us up here to build a Web service,' he said, although dedicated development tools are easier to use in his opinion.

Confused users

Charney acknowledged that Microsoft's .Net branding strategy has confused people who want to use Web services in multiplatform environments.

'You really can invest in any platform you want,' Charney said. 'What Microsoft provides is a set of class libraries to make Web services easier to use.'

Many users who are just starting to learn about Web services are amazed at the platform interoperability that already exists, Bosworth said.

The Web services industry has been talking about technology too long, Sutor said. 'We have to sell this to you on business merits,' he said.

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