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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Sun Microsystems Inc is moving towards Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) membership, but the gloves are off.

WS-I has unanimously agreed to expand its board by two seats, a process that could see Sun join as a founding member if elected by the organization's membership.

A WS-I working group will now nail down specifics for the elections. A WS-I spokesperson was unable to speculate how long that process would take or when an election should be expected.

Sun's membership as a founding member is a long-running issue that has generated numerous headlines. The WS-I spokesperson said now it has been addressed, the organization can "focus on deliverables."

She added, though, that Sun is in heavy competition. At least 12 other companies expressed an interest in seats on the WS-I board.

Sun welcomed the news, but stuck to its guns over joining as a founding member. Marge Breya, vice president of the Sun Open Network Environment (ONE) software division, said at a company press event last week: "We are confident we will be offered a founding membership."

Recently appointed head of Sun's software operations Jonathan Schwatz repeated the company's official stance - that it will not join WS-I as anything other than a founding member.

Sun believes it was bounced out of the founding line-up by Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft. Evidence in the company's anti-trust settlement proceedings allege Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates would only allow Microsoft to join the WS-I if Sun was excluded as a founding member.

Schwartz said: "We would like to join... but we don't expect to join WS-I as anything other than a founding member."

He added Microsoft and IBM - both WS-I founding members - have been invited to join the Liberty Alliance Project. Liberty is fleshing-out specifications for secure single sign-in to web services, and Microsoft and IBM are notable absentees from the organization's 100 plus membership.

Schwartz said Sun continued to believe in royalty-free WS-I specifications. Alarm bells rang recently when IBM notified the Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) it owned patents over elements of the Sun-backed electronic business XML (ebXML). Specifically, the patents cover Collaboration Protocol Profiles (CPPs) and Collaboration Protocol Agreements (CPAs).

IBM moved quickly to deny it planned to charge royalties over ebXML, but Sun joined observers voicing concerns IBM and others may charge royalties on technologies they owned, which are adopted by the WS-I.

© ComputerWire

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