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Dueling tech blueprints vie for standard

IBM, Microsoft, other biggies submit standards proposal for a Web-services-focused reliable-messaging spec. But a standard already exists.

Heavyweights from the world of back-end computing systems have proposed a standard for guaranteeing delivery of data between systems, even though a similar standard already exists.

As anticipated, IBM, Microsoft, Tibco Software and BEA Systems provided on Tuesday a technical specification called WS-ReliableMessaging to the standards body Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). The authors of the XML-based specification, also known as WS-RM, will not charge royalties for use.

The companies proposed that the submitted blueprints form the basis of an industry standard. They say that once it's built into products, WS-RM will provide a way for software from different vendors to reliably exchange data between applications, an important requirement for making Web services applications more mainstream.

The authors also asked that OASIS create a technical committee to take up their proposal.

One obstacle the effort faces is an existing technical committee in OASIS that has spent the last two years working on what's essentially the same technology. The WS-Reliability specification (as opposed to the WS-ReliableMessaging proposal), is designed for guaranteed delivery of XML data and was declared an OASIS standard last year.

The authors of WS-RM hope to gain the support of the people and companies working on WS-Reliability, said Diane Jordan, program manager for emerging internet software standards at IBM.

"We understand the WS Reliability specification, and the authors there are concerned about getting to a single solution. So are we, and we would really welcome their support in this technical committee," said Jordan.

WS-RM has been under development for several years and has undergone a number of interoperability tests.

"We had a case of two groups of vendors taking different approaches not only with the content of the specification but the process," Jordan said.

A representative for the technical committee in charge of WS-Reliability at OASIS said it hopes to work together with the authors of the WS-ReliableMessaging specification.

"Although we feel that the WS-Reliability spec is wholly adequate and achieves its stated purpose, we feel strongly that unification in the industry on these basic protocol standards will be beneficial to our customers and the industry as a whole," said Robert Freund, an executive from Hitachi, which co-authored the current OASIS standard. "We are encouraging the authors (of WS-Reliable Messaging) to adopt a more conciliatory and inclusive attitude."

Freund also called on OASIS to continue its committment to the "open process" of creating industry-wide standards.

"We feel that all OASIS activities must continue in this tradition and should reject normative connections to proprietary specifications," Freund said.