For a time, it seemed as though ‘web services' might emerge without the in-fighting and politics that has marred the development of almost every other standards-based technology. But now there seems to be no chance.
Sun Microsystems has strongly criticised the Web Services Interoperability Organisation (WS-I) after it emerged that the vendor had been excluded from the board. Simon Phipps, Sun's chief technology evangelist, has branded the WS-I a front for Microsoft and IBM to disseminate their own "political sentiments veiled in openness". In an interview with Infoconomy's Collaborate newsletter, he claims that Sun was frozen out because it supports open standards.
IBM and Microsoft's defence: "Sun is not involved enough in web services." But, according to Phipps, this is all part of a master plan hatched by Bob Sutor, IBM's director for ebusiness standards strategy, and Neil Charney, director of Microsoft's .Net platforms strategy group, to remove Sun from the standardisation process, charge for patents and make WS-I an all-powerful proprietary body. "Sutor and Charney have a Soviet-style view of history," he says. "In other words, they like to re-write it, painting Sun as a company that doesn't support web services."
The row has put the spotlight onto the WS-I, its role, and its power to influence the future. Its stated role is to provide guidance and resources for web services deployment. If it develops into a proprietary standards organisation, analysts say it would not be able to shape the future of web services due to strong customer demand for open standards.