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Commentary: IBM, Microsoft's Web services sing-along

IBM's Steve Mills and Microsoft's Bill Gates pledged allegiance to software standards. Is their commitment to Web services standards real? Yes. In fact, you can bet your career on it.

    Commentary: IBM, Microsoft's Web services sing-along
    By Forrester Research
    Special to CNET News.com
    September 22, 2003, 4:00AM PT

    Ted Schadler, Principal Analyst

    IBM's Steve Mills and Microsoft's Bill Gates pledged allegiance to software standards. Is their commitment to Web services standards real? Yes. In fact, you can bet your career on it.

    Forrester shuttled to New York to attend a software interoperability fete with IBM Software Group Senior Vice President Steve Mills and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. These fierce competitors became impresarios for the day to emphasize their commitment to new Web services standards for security, reliability and transactions. Why should you believe their commitment? Because the duo has a few motives:


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    • The have every reason in the world to create meaningful software standards. In Mills' words, "With standards, it's give to get." By giving away well-composed Web services specs, these execs hope to spur more demand for their software: to link systems together, build e-commerce apps and automate business work flows. Customers demand interoperability; IBM and Microsoft are smart enough to capitalize on it.

    • A three-year track record of giving intellectual capital away. Every Web services standard that IBM and Microsoft have spearheaded has been turned over to a standards body under royalty-free terms. Both Mills and Gates are committed to continuing this royalty-free policy for advanced Web services standards like WS-Addressing, WS-Reliable Messaging and WS-Policy.

    • They invited companies like BEA, Oracle, SAP and Sun Microsystems to participate. Although IBM and Microsoft control the flow, they do widen the funnel of participation as the spec gains momentum. The alternative--design by committee--suffers from a glacial pace and standards bloat. Proof that the IBM-Microsoft process works? Check out the good work of the 120-company-strong WS-I.

    • They have retained lots of ways to compete for your attention. Let there be no doubt, these companies will continue to battle for customers' IT dollars--and often the blood will fly. But both companies will win as Web services standards lay the foundation for new apps that will be built on IBM and Microsoft software.

    © 2003, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.