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Software Giants Ship Addressing Spec to W3C

UPDATED: Several leading software vendors have submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) the draft of a key specification to foster the interoperability of Web services.

In a sign of unity, usual standards collaborators Microsoft, IBM, and BEA Systems were joined by SAP AG and Sun Microsystems to deliver WS-Addressing to the W3C as a royalty-free, proposed standard.

Sun has traditionally had a contentious relationship with the other companies regarding agreement of Web services specs, accusing Microsoft, IBM and BEA of fragmenting the industry with disparate specs.

It appears that is water under the bridge due to the broad interoperability agreement inked in April between Microsoft and Sun, according to Ed Julson of Web Services Marketing at Sun Microsystems.

"In the process of having some of these discussions, it's pretty obvious that one of these areas that we need to collaborate to get to this interoperability is in the standards domain. This is one area where it just made a lot of sense to do that," Julson told internetnews.com during a call.

WS-Addressing defines a standard way for finding and exchanging Web services messages between multiple endpoints on a network, which is a key barrier to the development and adoption of interoperable Web services applications.

WS-Addressing provides an XML format for exchanging endpoint references within SOAP message headers. These define mechanisms to direct replies to specific locations.

Julson said WS-Addressing joins WS-MessageDelivery in the W3C as a protocol for addressing. It is expected that WS-MessageDelivery will be ultimately bundled with WS-Addressing after consideration by the W3C.

Developers and businesses use Web services -- raw application-to-application communication -- for integration projects. Without the point-to-point communication advocated by WS-Addressing, messages can be lost, resulting in failure to carry out a task. WS-Addressing also obviates the need for proprietary point software band-aids that rarely interoperate.

W3C was chosen over OASIS as a home for WS-Addressing because it is where most core foundation specs are hashed out, including SOAP and WSDL.

Dave Orchard, Director of Technology, Office of the CTO at BEA, said the co-authors hope a W3C working group will be formed over the next few months to facilitate the standards ratification process for WS-Addressing. Depending on W3C members, standards passage could take a year.

Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst for SOA and Web services research firm ZapThink, rejoiced at the teaming of Microsoft, IBM, BEA and Sun: the companies have found themselves developing competing specs.

For example, Microsoft, IBM and BEA drew the ire of Sun Microsystems in 2003 when they published the WS-ReliableMessaging spec after Sun and others had released WS-Reliability.

"That's definitely a significant shift from the detente of the past where it seemed that some of the above vendors were always on the other side of the spec issue, Schmelzer told internetnews.com. "Seems like Sun in particular has turned the corner."