Sun Objects to Microsofts Web Services Workshop

Sun claims Microsoft is holding a workshop but only extending invitations to "a private invite list."

Sun Microsystems Inc. is crying foul over a Web services workshop Microsoft Corp. is planning for Tuesday.

Microsoft is holding a workshop to solicit input on the WS-ReliableMessaging (WS-RM) specification that Microsoft developed in conjunction with IBM, BEA Systems Inc. and Tibco Software Inc. and announced in March. However, Sun said it takes exception to the workshop because the WS-RM work essentially duplicates the efforts of Sun, Oracle Corp. and several other companies to develop the WS-Reliability specification last January. Sun and its partners on WS-Reliability submitted the specification to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) in February and expected anyone else interested in working on a standard for reliable messaging in the Web services space to join that effort.

"Were talking about reliable messaging. This is one of the things, along with security, that we really need" to get Web services to take off in the enterprise, said Susy Struble, program manager for Web standards and technologies at Sun. "Still these folks have this proprietary specification and are not working with us."

Struble said Sun objected to Microsoft holding a workshop but only extending invitations to "a private invite list." However, the invitation did make it to the OASIS WS-Reliability technical committee via some members who received invites. And the invitations, from a Microsoft employee, encouraged receivers to "feel free to pass this information along to potential participants either in your company or elsewhere." However, Sun has not been invited directly, Struble said.

Sun officials see the move as divisive. "This behavior thats dividing the market really needs to stop," Struble said. "Holding a workshop is almost like trying to set up a shadow government," she said, adding that it is "understandable" to maintain a separate focus "if you want to keep control but when it comes to standards the point is more minds are better."

Struble said the OASIS WS-Reliability technical committee has been in existence longer than the WS-RM specification and is working to deliver a royalty-free specification.

"My question to Microsoft and IBM is why are they only paying lip service to the promise of Web service?" Struble asked. "Theyre in this weird pattern of pushing work thats late to the game and duplicative," she said, noting Microsoft and IBMs announcement of WS-Federation, which does much the same thing as the Sun-led Liberty Alliance Project.

"Its a little bit embarrassing, actually, to see Microsoft and IBM fragmenting the industry; its slowing things down."

Microsoft declined to comment on specifics of the meeting; IBM and BEA could not be reached for comment.

Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Cambridge, Mass., market research firm, said Sun and the leaders of the WS-RM specification "are each pitching products at different locations on the Web services continuum, and thus have their own agendas when proposing a specification. Its hard to tell which standard will win since its hard to tell what customers are really going to implement—and in the end, its the customers that will decide which specs will be important."