WS-I to Expand Board of Directors

Two new seats could open the door for Sun Microsystems.

The Web Services Interoperability Organization, or WS-I, on Thursday announced that its members have approved a proposal to expand its board of directors by two seats.

The two new seats could open the door for Sun Microsystems Inc. to join the organization as a board member. Officials at Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., have said the only way the company would join WS-I would be as a board member, owing to the contributions Suns technology has made to the Web services arena.

"This is a good thing for the WS-I organization and were evaluating what were going to do as a result," said Russ Castronovo, a spokesman for Sun. "Its certainly something were looking at."

When the WS-I organization was formed in February, Sun was not invited to join as a founding member. Simon Phipps, Suns chief technology evangelist, speaking at a forum right after the formation of WS-I, said Sun felt shunned by the organizations founders, but that the company was considering joining. However, Sun never joined.

Charles Fitzgerald, general manager of platform strategies at Microsoft Corp., told eWEEK that Sun was not invited to become a founding member and may have trouble getting in now. The WS-I board is open to organizations "who are relevant to show leadership in the Web services area. Sun would have a hard time making that case."

Microsoft was a founding member of WS-I, along with IBM and BEA Systems Inc.

During antitrust-related court hearings in May, attorneys for the nine litigating states seeking stiffer penalties against Microsoft showed e-mail from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates that indicated Gates did not want Sun to have a major role in WS-I.

"I can live with this if we have the positioning clearly in our favor," Gates wrote of WS-I in an e-mail, which was introduced as evidence in the case. "In particular, Sun not being one of the movers/announcers/founding members."

Fitzgerald also sent e-mail to executives regarding WS-I, which Microsoft had code-named "foo" before its founding. "We got emphatic feedback from you that foo should be technically unpalatable to Sun," Fitzgerald wrote in an e-mail, which also was introduced as evidence in the case.

WS-I officials said members in good standing will be eligible to run for election and that nominations will be accepted between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, and elections are scheduled for sometime in March. Companies interested in running for board election will need to join WS-I. More than 150 companies have joined WS-I since its formation in February.

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