Is the WSTF one Web services forum too many?

IBM and Oracle, among others, back the new organization focused on testing, but questions are raised about redundancies with an existing group

Vendors including IBM and Oracle are launching an industry organization Monday for Web services interoperability, despite the existence of another Web services interoperability group with many of the same members.

Called the WSTF (Web Services Test Forum), the group is being formed to improve the quality of Web services standards. It will use customer-based scenarios to validate interoperability in a multi-vendor testing environment, according to a statement from WSTF. Customers and vendors can dynamically test applications against implementations to ensure interoperability. Testing is intended to help delivery of higher quality products and open standards specifications to simplify integration and improve interoperability.

Also on the list of the 15 current members are such companies as Active Endpoint, Cisco, Ford Motor, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Red Hat, and Tibco. But some of these same companies, including IBM, Oracle, Fujitsu, Hitachi, and Tibco, are also members of the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), formed in February 2002 also to promote Web services interoperability. WS-I has emphasized the use of profiles to promote interoperability.

A look at explanations of the groups on their respective Web sites reveals similarities.

"The Web Services Interoperability Organization is an open industry organization chartered to establish best practices for Web services interoperability, for selected groups of Web services standards, across platforms, operating systems, and programming languages," according to the WS-I Web site.

WSTF, however, emphasizes testing in its statement.

"The WS Test Forum Group is meant to provide an environment in which members of the Web service community can develop interop scenarios as well as test those scenarios against other Web service implementations. It also provides a common test bed of regression tests that the community can use during the development of their Web service implementations," the WSTF site states.

An IBM official stressed the differences between the two groups.

"We think WS-I has served us very well to define some of the profiles and focus on interoperability work for some of those basic profiles. [WSTF] is kind of an evolution," for Web services interoperability, said Karla Norsworthy, vice president of software standards at IBM.

WSTF allows particpants to maintain interoperable endpoints enabling, for example, interoperability with IBM's WebSphere application server, Norsworthy said.

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