This eWEEK - 18

Coopetition is alive and well. that '90s buzzword is back in circulation if this week's Web services roundtable is any indication.

Coopetition is alive and well. that 90s buzzword is back in circulation if this weeks Web services roundtable is any indication. Although the roundtable participants—with eWEEK Technology Editor Peter Coffee acting as referee—bob and weave, professing cooperation and interoperability around standards above all else, they each bring something distinctly different to the table. That means, inevitably, competition. And that means—theres no getting around this—the vendor that dies with the most developers wins.

The top competing environments, of course, are .Net and J2EE. On the .Net side of the roundtable are Microsoft and partners such as Avanade. On the J2EE side are IBM and Oracle. (Sun declined our invitation to participate.)

"The vendors are indeed seeking to innovate around standards so that developers will be more attracted to their environments. They want to get developers to use higher-level interfaces—theirs—rather than knowing and mastering the standards directly," said Coffee between rounds.

As an example of the kinds of goodies that the "coopetitors" are adding to their environments, look no further than Darryl Tafts story on IBM readying a service-level agreement module to WebSphere. Says Darryl: "Its a play to try to lure developers away from BEA and the other app servers to WebSphere." Maybe Microsoft will divert some of the programmers who have been cooking up BizTalk Server 2004. According to Jim Rapoza, theyve been doing a great job. In Jims review of the BizTalk Server 2004 beta, he says an already-strong product is about to get much better, thanks to the implementation of XML Schema. "When Microsoft makes up its mind to compete, they do a really good job," says Jim.

And what would an eWEEK be without a strong dose of Wi-Fi? As Carmen Nobel reports from the 802.11 Planet show in Boston, the theme of interoperability was present there as well. Hot spots link users from anywhere but also create vulnerabilities to hacks via overlapping Bluetooth nets. Fortunately, vendors such as Red-M are on the alert, Carmen reports. If youre in Manhattan, look out for a Verizon hot-spot phone booth (see photo). There are about 150 of them now. By the end of the year, there could be one in your part of the country as well, say officials of Proxim, which is helping Verizon with the deployment.

Till next eWEEK, send your comments to stan_gibson@ziffdavis.com.