Consortia Set Web Services Standard

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-05-28

New consortia in the financial and health-care arenas are setting standards for online collaboration — and the spread of Web services.

Ten Wall Street securities firms have invested $40 million to set up EquiLend, an independent company that will operate a common platform for clearing securities trades. Separately, a group of 13 medical societies and three universities, including Johns Hopkins University, have formed MedBiquitous, a nonprofit organization that will develop standards and technological infrastructure to enable online certification, electronic research and error tracking.

The announcements underscore the growing importance of Web services, which represents a movement toward a fully integrated communications between different computer systems. Such interoperability is crucial to helping doctors share medical information, which is MedBiquitous purpose, according to founder Dr. Peter Greene.

"Instead of describing the formats of documents, it describes more complex business processes," he said.

IBM, Rational Software and Sun Microsystems will help develop the MedBiquitous technology. The medical societies can benefit from Web services, said Robert Sutor, IBMs director of e-business standards strategy.

"They all do the same things in different ways," drawing upon the same information and applications from different sources, he said.

More than just a standards committee, MedBiquitous will operate a technology lab at Johns Hopkins, MedBiquitous Laboratory, which will develop Internet tools for medical communities. A for-profit services company — MedBiquitous Services —was started to help medical societies create and deploy online services.

Securities firms hope to use Web services to manage trades better through EquiLend. "All of us have been developing our own technology solutions. The result has been a rather fragmented, inefficient transmissions system," said Ralph Vitale, executive vice president at State Street, one of EquiLends 10 investor companies.

EquiLend plans to hire a management team, build the technology platform, recruit new members and start operations by the first quarter of 2002. It will seek an outside company to host its services, Vitale said.

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