WebMethods Inc. and Cape Clear Software Inc. may not normally see each other as competitors, but that may soon be the case. Both Web services vendors are running for the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I)'s two newly created board of director seats, and Sun Microsystems Inc. is still considered a favorite to win one of them.
Fairfax, Va.-based WebMethods' vice president of enterprise Web services, Andrew Astor, will run, and so will Jorgen Thelin, chief scientist for Dublin, Ireland-based Cape Clear. The deadline for submitting nominations to the WS-I is Feb. 15, and the election will be held in March.
According to a source close to the WS-I, the 160 member companies will vote on the nominations. The company receiving the most votes will win a two-year term, and the company placing second will win a one-year term. Pending final approval from the existing board members, the winners' two- and one-year terms will begin April 1.
Thelin said he is running not only to represent the interests of smaller Web services vendors but also to address communication problems within the organization.
"It's quite often not clear to members in general, not just small companies, which direction the organization is heading in and what its future plans are," Thelin said. "There needs to be much more involvement from the membership in shaping the future growth of the organization."
Astor said he is running because WebMethods has been involved with the WS-I since
Ronald Schmelzer, founder and senior analyst with ZapThink, said the WS-I voting process is ambiguous, making it unclear if either WebMethods or Cape Clear has a shot at winning a seat. He also said Sun is still the favorite to win one of the seats. However, it is possible for Sun to not win a seat, even though the two new spots were primarily created to accommodate Sun.
"I don't know how the existing members are going to vote," said Schmelzer. "Are they going to vote politically for their own interests, or are they going to vote in the best interest of the community?"
Astor also said that he does expect someone from Sun to be elected, meaning that WebMethods, Cape Clear and any other companies that choose to run will essentially be competing against one another for a single board seat.
"Sun is a strong contributor to the Web services industry and certainly has a great deal of mind share," Astor said. "There's some talk from Cape Clear that the WS-I needs the voice of a small organization, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing, but I think it's important that the company [elected] is large enough to provide the resources" that the WS-I needs.
A Sun spokesman told SearchWebServices.com that the company, which has expressed interest in being on the WS-I board for some time, still intends to run, but the spokesman declined to name the individual who will represent Sun in the election. Schmelzer said likely representatives include Mark Herring, Sun's senior director of Java Web services; Jon Bosak, a distinguished engineer and standards guru; and market development manager Simon Nicholson.
Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp., BEA Systems Inc. and others officially founded the WS-I a year ago this week to advance interoperability among the products offered by Web services vendors. Sun was not invited to participate and, a few months later, court proceedings revealed that Microsoft intentionally excluded Sun.
Despite the animosity between Sun and Microsoft, Sun maintained interest all along in joining the group, but only with the same, influential board-member status held by Microsoft. With the help of IBM and others, Sun in October successfully lobbied the group to add two new board seats, but those spots are only for limited terms. Even though those spots are only for limited terms, unlike the existing seats, Sun promptly joined the WS-I in order to run for the board.
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