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"We Have To Work Together For The Greater Good," Says Sun Exec as Sun Joins WS-I

"We Have To Work Together For The Greater Good," Says Sun Exec as Sun Joins WS-I

(October 29, 2002) - This past week, in a move that some have characterized as a u-turn, Sun Microsystems joined the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) as a contributing member. Previously, Sun declined joining the WS-I unless it would be given equal status with WS-I's nine founding companies, which include IBM; HP; Intel; SAP; Oracle; Fujitsu; Accenture; BEA; and Sun's rival, Microsoft. Now that the WS-I has opened up two more seats to the board, Sun is betting on the possibility that they'll gain a board seat next March. Ed Julson, director of Industry Alliances and Standards, Sun Microsystems, gave us Sun's point of view on this decision in an exclusive interview.

JDJ-IN: What most influenced Sun to join WS-I at this time?

Ed Julson: Sun has always been supportive of the need to do Web services interoperability work. Where we have had issues is with the WS-I governance model. The recent WS-I decision to add two seats to the board now make it possible for Sun to join WS-I and contribute at a level we feel is appropriate.

Even though the election doesn't take place until next March, we are joining now to meet certain membership and election criteria as defined in the WS-I bylaws.

JDJ-IN: Ariba, Cisco Systems, IONA Technologies, KPMG International, Novell, Reed Business Information, Reuters, Tibco, VeriSign, and WebMethods have also expressed interest in becoming board members in the WS-I. What do you believe Sun's chances are to be elected onto the WS-I board?

Ed: I don't believe there's any company in the industry better suited to this role than Sun. We have a proven track record in standards, and a long history as an innovator in network computing. Our work in the Java community promoting open standards, and our experience building TCK's and AVK's for Java platform compatability gives Sun unique insight into what it takes to design interoperable software. In addition, there's work we can leverage from our involvement with SOAPbuilders, a SOAP interoperability forum.

JDJ-IN: Forrester analyst Ted Schadler earlier characterized Sun as "the overachieving teenager who is not quite ready to give up independence," when compared to the "grownups" of WS-I such as IBM, SAP, and Microsoft. Do you see Sun's joining of WS-I in any way compromising Sun's independence?

Ed: Not at all. Sun is currently active in a wide variety of industry forums and standards bodies. We are fierce competitors with many of the companies we work with in these forums and that we will be working with at WS-I. However, in order to grow the overall market and enable technology adoption, sometimes we have to work together for the greater good. WS-I is an example of one of those situations.

JDJ-IN: Are there specific issues that Sun would like to see the WS-I address regarding Web services and Java? Does Sun anticipate the WS-I having influence on the direction of Java?

Ed: The WS std's stack has become way too complex, with too many overlapping specifications. This complexity is now a major inhibitor to Web services adoption and needs to be addressed.

It is Sun's intent to work within standards bodies, such as the W3C and OASIS to converge overlapping specifications and then align this work with the WS-I interoperability profiles and the Java platform.

The next round of WS-I profiles will be significantly more complex to develop than the current profiles, and Sun wants to make sure that all relevant specifications are consider for this work, not just a favored few.

And finally, we are committed to royalty free technologies and governance processes that result in truly open organizations.

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