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Firms divided over Web services standard

A technical committee forges ahead with development of a Sun- and Oracle-backed reliable-messaging specification without the support of industry heavyweights IBM and Microsoft.

A technical committee will forge ahead on Thursday with development of a Web services reliable-messaging specification without the backing of industry heavyweights IBM and Microsoft.

Companies that back the specification--Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, Oracle and Sun Microsystems--will demonstrate on Thursday how products based on the proposed Web Services Reliability standard can interoperate as designed. The proof-of-concept will take place at a meeting of the Web Services Reliability technical committee of the standards body Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

Reliable messaging is considered one of the most pressing additions to help drive adoption of Web services, which is a set of industry guidelines for building applications that can easily share information. Reliable messaging standards are needed to help define how information can be shared between software programs as reliably as within a single application. Analysts said the lack of a single standard could ultimately hinder adoption of Web services.

Despite the need for an industrywide standard, reliable messaging has been marred by rivalries among competing information technology providers.

The Web Services Reliability specification was submitted to OASIS in February for consideration as an industrywide standard. The reliable messaging function is designed to guarantee that data sent between computers via messages will arrive at the intended destination.

Only a few weeks later, Microsoft, IBM, Tibco and BEA Systems published their own reliable messaging Web services specification. Microsoft held a meeting in July to garner interest and gather feedback on the rival specification, called WS-Reliable Messaging, which has not been submitted to a standards body.

Overall, Web services standards have been adopted by software providers, and the Web Services Interoperability Organization has issued guidelines to ensure that products from different providers work together as advertised. However, finding common ground around the more advanced capabilities, including reliable messaging and business process automation, has been more contentious.