Web services must reach a consensus

Gartner analyst says Sun's current foray into Java-based Web services, called Jax (Java application programming interface for Xml), is incompatible with Microsoft's Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol) initiative

Industry experts have warned that anyone looking to build or use Web-based services using Sun Microsystems' service-driven network strategy, code-named Brazil, will face incompatibility with Microsoft technologies.

According to Gartner analyst Yefim Natis, Sun's current foray into Java-based Web services, called Jax (Java application programming interface for Xml), is incompatible with Microsoft's Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol) initiative.

In a Gartner paper, entitled "Is Sun on the road to Web services", from December 2000, Natis says Sun's Web services may turn out to be significantly different from Microsoft's. In the paper he notes that Sun has already said that the JAX standards will become part of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition).

Whether this will impact upon Sun's forthcoming service-driven network initiative and Brazil project remains to be seen. But Tim Jennings, an analyst at Butler Group, said that the two companies have a bad co-operation record.

The legal wrangling over Java licensing has led to a situation where, according to Jennings, "Microsoft is claiming its Soap standard is language-independent, but Java is not supported."

He said that Microsoft appears not to acknowledge the existence of Java Enterprise Edition, which could impact upon Sun's Brazil initiative as this draws heavily on Java technologies. Consumers of potential Web Services and commercial developers faced a serious hurdle to overcome, he said. "It is so frustrating to [software] developers." He reasoned that while no single software standard was likely to prevail, "[People] need to be able to link to alternative technologies."

For this to happen Jennings stipulated that Sun and Microsoft would have to co-operate. "The current stand-off with Java is holding things back."

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