Until mid-2002, there was no clear contender for Web services orchestration. WSCI was the specification to beat, but it was controlled by Sun, Oracle and SAP (an acronym for SOS, by the way). Late last year, it looked like BPEL was gaining steam, and finally the SOS call failed to be heeded. It was officially left stranded when Microsoft, IBM and BEA released BPEL to OASIS in mid-April, thus killing any competing choreography standard. So there it isthe history of a specification that became a standard simply because of the clout of three big companies. At one time, standards became standards because a) they were de facto and in place because a behemoth vendor had tremendous presence in the market with a productthink Microsoft Word; or b) the standards bodies agreed through debate and comment to make an underlying communication foundation a reality through a specificationthink the W3C.Its not just the customers that got dinged; however, it appears that the W3C also got dinged. It would have been a likely candidate to maintain BPEL4WS, but the big three put BPEL into OASIS. Fortunately, it signals a real division; W3C operates at a lower level and is concerned about the Web. OASIS is the business division of the specification world; all the vendor-led specs run through OASIS, including BPEL, SAML, ebXML and UDDI. Its also business-friendly and, in these times of competitive business practices, the more important standards body.
Were now entering a phase in which standards become standards before the vendors have products and before the specification is fully debated and realized. Its standardization by market dominance, and IBM and Microsoft, with BEA as a tag-along, have mastered how this should happen. The vendors involved could not care less about customers. Theyre seeing things long before customers see themas if they were visionaries when theyre actually just big-time capitalists. The problem is that Web services orchestration is years ahead of what most companies want or need to do now. But these vendors are going at it, spiting customers because they can. By the time customers are set to implement, the vendors will be aligned, and customers will have to go with one of the big-three vendors.