Sun joins WS-I, plans to seek board seat
- By John K. Waters
When it held its first meeting last April, the Web
Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) boasted a charter membership of
more than 100 companies. Led by IBM and Microsoft, it was the first industry
group formed to promote Web services interoperability across platforms,
applications and programming languages.
Conspicuously absent from that founding roster was Sun Microsystems. For
reasons that were hotly debated at the time, the company that invented Java, a
leading deployment platform for Web services, was not among the consortium's
Last week, Sun (http://www.sun.com) formally
disclosed that it would not only finally join the WS-I (http://www.ws-i.org), but that it plans to run
for election to the organization's newly expanded board in March 2003.
''With over 20 years of experience in network computing innovation and open
standards development,'' the company said in a statement, ''Sun plans to play an
active role in WS-I technology guideline areas.''
The WS-I was formed in February, and Microsoft's Bill Gates derided Sun at
the time for not joining the group. Sun countered that founders IBM (http://www.ibm.com) and Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) -- two its biggest
competitors -- snubbed the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company by asking Sun to
participate as a regular member, but not as a board member. Board members have
more influence in the decision-making process of the WS-I; regular members are
allowed only one vote. Sun execs said they were reluctant to join an
organization dominated by competitors without an equal status in the group.
''If you ask anyone in the industry who the [Web services] thought leaders
are,'' Sun's chief technology evangelist, Simon Phipps, told eADT at the time,
''they will say Microsoft, IBM and Sun.'' Joining the WS-I as a regular member
''doesn't reflect our status as thought leaders in the Web services industry,''
Mark Herring, Sun's senior director for Java Web Services, told eADT that his
company has received requests from ''many parties'' to participate in the WS-I.
''The new board member positions allowed us to reconsider our original stance and
join the organization,'' he said.
The WS-I announced that it would add two seats to its board earlier this
month. Officials of the organization said that only members would be eligible to
run for election. According to unconfirmed reports, it was IBM that made the
original recommendation to open the WS-I board, and IBM's director of Web
services strategy, conceded to eADT at the time that the move was designed to
bring Sun into the fold.
Nominations for the new WS-I board seats will be accepted between Jan. 1 and
Feb. 15, 2003. Elections will be held in March, and the new directors will fill
their seats in April. More than 150 companies have joined WS-I since February
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached