IBM, Microsoft and BEA get together on Web services specs

Perhaps Web services can transcend corporate rivalries. Perhaps not. This past week, IBM, Microsoft and BEA jointly announced three proposed specifications for defining, creating and connecting multiple business processes in a Web services environment.

As with some recent similar announcements, Sun Microsystems is notable as a non-participant.

The proposed specs go beyond the current SOAP, UDDI and WSDL standards for setting up a basic Web service. The new specifications -- WS-Coordination, WS-Transaction and Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS) -- are designed to manage complex applications interacting with a variety of internal and external Web services.

WS-Coordination offers developers a way to manage and sequence the operations of multiple Web services in an application.

WS-Transaction is designed to monitor the success or failure of operations across distributed organizations in a Web services environment.

BPEL4WS is an XML-based language that defines business process interactions within and between businesses. 'It allows companies to describe complex business processes that can span multiple companies, such as order processing, lead management and claims handling,' read the announcement from IBM, Microsoft and BEA. 'These business processes can use partner-provided Web services, and can also be offered as Web services business process functions internally or to partners in a reliable and dependable way.'

BPEL4WS is a synthesis of IBM's WSFL and Microsoft's XLANG projects, now replaced by the newly announced spec, which the companies say combines and extends their previous attempts at a Web services flow language.

The three new specifications are being offered to IT professionals, developers and software vendors for evaluation and feedback at this time, according to a spokesperson for the three companies. The spokesperson added that it was premature for the proposed specs to go to a standards body, although that may be done at a later, as-yet-unspecified date.

Published specifications are available at the following sites:
Microsoft Corp.
IBM Corp.
BEA Systems

For more on specifications, please go to

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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