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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Sun Microsystems Inc is inching towards joining the Web Services-Interoperability (WS-I) organization on condition it receives board-level membership.

Palo Alto, California-based Sun told Computerwire Friday it is in discussions with WS-I to join a newly expanded board. IBM last week proposed the WS-I board be expanded with two new positions, a tactical move that could see Sun admitted.

"We are having some conversations. It's going back and forth to find out what the particulars are," a Sun spokesperson said. "This is a good thing. We always said we like what the group is up to."

Sun's admission would avert a potential stand-off over web standards. Sun was excluded from WS-I's creation in February and previous applications for founding-member status have been rebutted by board members, unwilling to change the organization's structure.

Microsoft, a WS-I co-founder with IBM, is reported to have said it continued to support the original board position and not change the structure. Microsoft said it supported the focus on deliverables, instead. Microsoft WS-I representatives were unavailable for comment.

Sun has accused WS-I members of working to a political agenda intended to exclude Sun. Executives said Sun received an eleventh hour invitation to join, by which time it was too late to review details and make a proper decision.

Since its foundation, WS-I's membership has grown to more than 100 companies, and includes Accenture, AT&T, BEA Systems Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Hewlett-Packard, and Proctor & Gamble.

Sun is not guaranteed automatic admission to WS-I's board under IBM's plan, though. Board members must vote on who would occupy the two seats proposed by IBM, and competition is fierce. WS-I rejected 16 other companies also seeking board-level admission when it rejected Sun's last application for membership.

Sun believes that it can influence WS-I's direction through board-level membership. The WS-I previously said Sun was welcome to join one of its three working groups, but Sun made it clear it wishes to vote on specifications and to be able to participate in WS-I policies.

© ComputerWire. All rights reserved.

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