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Microsoft and IBM web-control war finally silenced

Google and Facebook join a fresh fight

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The WS-* specs from IBM and Microsoft suited the enterprisey world of those in the WS-I clubhouse. WS-* and the WS-I paved the way for the Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) bubble, a cacophony of hype about a set of systems that could never be delivered but paid the wages of consultants and enterprise vendors, and involved some kind of choreography wrapped in a portal.

The world was not interested in heavy building blocs of specs and a few technologies ordained by a handful of vendors with a vested interest in ensuring their place at the table. Developers outside the WS-I picked up on HTTP, REST and JSON that allowed loosely coupled communications. These kick open the door on the consumer web of dynamic and scripted services and today's cloud frenzy. Inevitably they also started feeding back into the WS-I vendors' software.

As it closed down Tuesday, the WS-I remained frozen in that war between big systems vendors to re-gain control over the web. The leaders include Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP. There was no Google, Amazon, Twitter or Facebook. Probably never even heard of it. WS-I has not only not moved with the times, the times have gone in a completely different direction.

The WS-I became irrelevant for other another reason: its members couldn't stop buying each other or succumbing to others - Microsoft bought Groove Networks, Hewlett-Packard Compaq, SAP Business Objects and Sybase, and Oracle claimed BEA, Oynx and - oh, yeah, Sun. A legion of enterprise application and data integration dots were also wiped off the board by other enterprise borgs - Iona Technologies, CapeClear and WebMethods.

Don't think the passing of the WS-I marks the end of big tech companies' attempts to control the web - the very crucible in which the WS-I was born. Far from it.

The war of who controls the internet, and ultimately you - and your data - is as hot as it ever was back in 2002 as the old guard jockied to rig the game and stay relevant as their world changed. Only today, it's the new guard - the web giants, Google, Facebook and Apple - rather than enterprise players that are doing the jockeying. Sure Microsoft and Oracle are players, but they aren't in the driving seat this time. The fight, meanwhile, has drifted from the dusty halls of groups like the WS-I and into the front lines and the trenches on the community as Google and Facebook battle for access to each others' users' email information.

Today it's no longer about who controls the process that's used to write the paper spec that we all then supposedly dance to - as it was in 2002. Now, it's over where the APIs are built and how far and how fast those APIs can penetrate our world in meaningful numbers that the web giants can claim. ®

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