Microsoft is considering whether to participate in a Web services standards effort called the Web Services Test Forum, which is backed by IBM, Oracle and others, but the software giant has indicated it may be redundant.
In a blog post entitled "Higher Standards for Web Standards," Steven Martin, Microsoft's senior director of developer platform product management, discussed Microsoft's criteria for supporting various standards. He also called into question whether Microsoft should back WSTF.
Martin said Microsoft tries to put itself "in the shoes of actual developers and IT pros" and ask, "'What are the barriers I'm facing today, and what do I need to solve them?'" He wrote:
"In many cases, the right answer isn't necessarily to define something new, but to instead carefully consider whether technology or initiatives already exist to solve the problem. In the end, we should judge the strength of standards on industry and customer adoption alone. As an example, IBM recently announced a consortium called "WSTF": Web Services Test Forum which leaves us a tad puzzled."
Martin said Web services standards are already mature and capable of handling most situations that arise. He added:
"As of today, the WS-* standards are largely complete within W3C, OASIS, WS-I, DMTF, etc. and are widely implemented in infrastructure products and used by organizations all over the world. We were thrilled to participate in the Oasis announcement just last week on WS-RX, WS-TX and WS-SX. With regard to testing, we think it is critical that customers be able to propose scenarios that match their real-world interoperability needs. Equally important-both successes and failures must be made public. This is why we're still evaluating our participation in WSTF."
Martin went on to detail some of Microsoft's efforts in the Web services standards community. Yet, perhaps his most telling statement about the WSTF situation is in his opening comments:
"Since the emergence of web services in the 90s, we've seen an explosion of standards and standards bodies. Sometimes, they emerge based on new innovations, other times they're created to unblock a stalemate on a similar standard or organization. Occasionally they are created simply to change the technology landscape in a way that is more favorable for certain vendors."
Moreover, Martin asked, "Do we need additional standards? The answer is almost certainly yes. But before touting a new standard or standards organization, vendors need to be clear about what specific issue is being solved and hold all parties accountable for doing so. Public access is a key criterion we have in mind as we think about WSTF. So what can you do? Continue to contribute at all levels; standards are only as good as the community formed around them."
The Web Services Test Forum launched in December, providing an open community with the goal of improving the quality of the Web services standards, with initial membership from Active Endpoints, AIAG, Axway, Cisco Systems, Eviware, Ford Motor, Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Software AG, Teamlog and TIBCO Software.