IBM, Microsoft in alliance to offer Web services

CIOL Bureau
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Ilaina Jonas and Siobhan Kennedy


NEW YORK: IBM, Microsoft Corp. and other fierce technology sector competitors

are expected on Thursday to announce an alliance to hammer out standards to make

it easier and cheaper for companies to do business over the Web, sources

familiar with the project said on Tuesday.

The group, to be named the Web Services Interoperability Organization, will

work on standards for Web services, the new market for software that makes it

easier for different computer systems to share information. This will make it

easier for companies to carry out purchasing, insurance checking and other

activities online.

This is not the first time IBM and Microsoft have joined forces in the name

of Web services. They have worked together under the auspices of certain

Internet standards groups to develop underlying technical standards for Web



The new group will also include BEA Systems Inc., the sources said. Other

likely members are leading technology giants such as Sun Microsystems Inc.,

Intel Corp. and Oracle Corp.

"All of these players that are typically not friendly with each other

are working together," John DiFucci, an analyst with CIBC World Markets

said, noting the general industry push behind Web services. "They've all

agreed on this ... and that's amazing."

Smaller companies such as integration software companies webMethods Inc.,

TIBCO Software and SeeBeyond Technology Corp. are also supporting Web services.

Reuters Plc owns a majority stake in TIBCO.


.Net Vs Java

On one side are companies supporting Microsoft's proprietary .Net Internet
technology. On the other are industry giants like International Business

Machines Corp. and BEA that support the rival Java software programming


Java, originally developed by Sun Microsystems, is popular with developers

because it can run on almost any computer system. Applications developed using

Microsoft's programming language can run only on Microsoft's Windows operating



Web services are designed to overcome these incompatibility problems by

wrapping data in a way any system can understand. "I think this is

important because it validates Microsoft's push into Web services," John

McPeake, an analyst with Prudential Securities said.

Hopefully, a new standard would allow any type of business data to be

repackaged as a Web service and linked to other software applications. That

makes it easier for companies to share data and do business, both internally and

with their partners, suppliers and customers over the Web.

"You have Microsoft and the other companies cooperating on a key

initiative that I think is an important IT (information technology) spending

driver over the next couple of years," McPeake said.


More standards needed

IBM, Microsoft and others have already joined to create standards including
such things as the Web services directory, known as UDDI, and other low-level

technical standards like SOAP, WSDL and XML, DiFucci said.

"There's still other standards that will need to evolve," DiFucci

said, naming areas such as security of Web services as a key issue. "They

have not, at least at this point, all come in full support of that."

(C) Reuters Limited.