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Web Services Standards Armies Should Fight to the Death.

By Jason Stamper

The standards war that is being played out in the crucial area of web services choreography between the rival Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) and Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI) camps should be fought until only one is left standing, according to the CEO of web services integration vendor Cape Clear Software Inc, Annrai O'Toole.

O'Toole, who was co-founder and CTO of Iona before he started Cape Clear, said in an interview with ComputerWire: "It is the simplest thing in the world to get a compromise in the area of standards. But you end up with a junk spec. The worst outcome is some silly compromise - just stapling them together. We need one or the other, not both."

Cape Clear for its part has sided with the BPEL camp, a standard developed by IBM Corp and Microsoft Corp initially but since handed to the OASIS standards body for ratification. Cape Clear is shunning the WSCI effort, developed by Sun Microsystems Inc with Oracle Corp's backing and then handed to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards group. Numerous vendors support both standards efforts, including Sun and Oracle, as well as BEA Systems, EDS, Intalio, Novell, SAP, SeeBeyond Technology and Tibco Software.

But O'Toole's comments make it even less likely that there will ever be a compromise between BPEL and WSCI in this vital area of web services orchestration, otherwise known as workflow. In an interview with ComputerWire in May, IBM's Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere Infrastructure Software and a key thinker when it comes to IBM's standards efforts, said that the chances of IBM working to integrate BPEL and the W3C's WSCI standard are remote. "We probably won't," he said.

Recently the WSCI group at the W3C extended an invitation to members of the BPEL camp at OASIS to attend the WSCI meetings to talk about a compromise, even if they chose not to join the group. So far the BPEL camp have stayed at home.

Meanwhile, O'Toole said the decision to back BPEL rather than WSCI was not a difficult one to make: "We think it's going to be BPEL," he said. "You've got Microsoft behind [BPEL] and IBM supporting it, that's enough. In web services it's Microsoft versus everybody else - if it's going to be in Microsoft and IBM stuff, that's it. We're just being pragmatic."

Fortunately for end users, concerned that the rift in this key web services standards area might delay the effective use of web services, O'Toole is of the opinion that even if both standards do survive separately, it will not cause significant problems for users.

"Neither WSCI nor BPEL have huge implications for transport on the net," he said. "These are standards that will be used by the vendors in their products, and these products are then used by developers when they need to orchestrate web services. So while it's not great that both may become standards, it is still a huge leap forward for users."

However, O'Toole was clear about what he expects the ultimate outcome of this particular standards war to be. "BPEL wins," he said.
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Title Annotation:Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) and Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI) camps
Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 4, 2003
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