BEA gains seat on W3C panel

Also see: Special Report - What's behind BEA's big bet on tools?


In recent years, BEA Systems ( parlayed its position of strength in transaction processing into a notable application server software presence. The firm's place in today's software business may, in turn, have helped it garner a credible position on an important new World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) panel charged with defining next-generation XML and Web services architectures (

Late last year, BEA's David Orchard was elected by the W3C membership to the W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG). Other elected members include individuals from Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems. W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee said the TAG panel's role is to ensure interoperability and consistency in Web software architecture.

This effort is just one of many W3C standardization efforts underway. One of the most important to date has been the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an undertaking that included both IBM and Microsoft, and which signified a potential cross-platform standard for Web-based applications. Still, said a BEA representative, agreement at the SOAP level is not enough to truly drive Web services forward.

"SOAP is part of the picture, but SOAP alone can't solve the problem," said Eric Stahl, senior product marketing manager for BEA's WebLogic server group. "You need a higher level architecture for BEA, Microsoft and others to follow," added Stahl. "If you just rely on SOAP, there's too much room for a single organization to go out and implement it in their own particular way.

"You need a standard in place," he continued. "The great news here is that the W3C, as the stewards of Web services, have announced this Technical Architecture Group."

ADT asked Stahl a question on the minds of many today. That is: How different are Web services' component architectures from previous object schemes?

Stahl responded: "What is interesting is that Web services offer a much more coarse-grained view." Objects and methods, he indicated, tend to be very fine grained. But as simpler services or functionalities, they could be made available to other apps.

"The coarse-grain nature of [Web services] is what will make it practical," suggested Stahl.

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About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.