Gates, Mills Tout Web Services Breakthrough

Duo teamed up to demonstrate for the first time reliable messaging and secure, authenticated transactions across a federated, heterogeneous environment.

NEW YORK—Bill Gates and IBM Software chief Steve Mills joined together here today to give an update on their companies combined work in advancing Web services.

In an intimate setting at the St. Regis Hotel, Gates, Microsoft Corp.s chief software architect and chairman, and Mills, IBM Software Groups senior vice president and general manager, demonstrated for the first time reliable messaging and secure, authenticated transactions across a federated, heterogeneous environment.

They also announced that they plan to take the specifications used to pull off the demonstration, and which the companies have been developing for three years, to open standards bodies soon, and that they would not seek royalties for the specs.

The demo was based on an auto dealer/parts scenario that comprised three partners: an auto dealer, a parts supplier, and the parts manufacturer and a high-tech cocktail of DB2, SQL Server, WebSphere and .Net.

The dealer was notified upon logging on of a windshield wiper shortage. The crowd followed as the dealer proceeded to place an order with the supplier, who in turn placed an order with the manufacturer.


Sounds simple enough, but the underpinnings of the demonstration were actual Web services apps, developed with specs such as the Web Services (WS)-Coordination and WS-Atomic Transaction specs, both of which were created by IBM and Microsoft along with BEA Systems Inc. The former is a "framework for providing protocols that coordinate the actions of distributed apps," while the latter "provides the definition of the atomic transaction coordination type that is to be used with the extensible coordination framework described in WS-Coordination."

Other specs put to work today were the WS-Federation and WS-Reliable Messaging.

The benefits to business, said Mills and Gates, are the following: such a Web services-based infrastructure enables single sign-on, increases flexibility, allows customers to leverage their existing business infrastructures, and allows for interoperability across multiple vendors products and platforms.

"For basic Web services, thats been done," Gates said. "What youre seeing here for the first time is a heterogeneous case, with IBM in half the systems and Microsoft on the other half of the systems."

(It should be noted that the backend of the demo was a Linux server running WebSphere and Windows Server 2003, and a Sharp Zaurus PDA running Linux and the Opera browser was used as one of the clients.)

To help drive the specifications further now, the company will take the specs to workshops over the next few months.

But the companies have not yet decided to which standards bodies they plan to submit the specs.

To be sure, theres much more work to be done, Mills said.

"Were not declaring victory, but were showing people the goal line," he said.

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