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A number of leading IT vendors, including Sun, Oracle, and NEC, are working together to improve how various Web services function and impact the delivery of data.

The group, which also includes Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., and Sonic Software, just published the Web Services Reliability (WS-Reliability) specification, a set of standards aimed at providing open, reliable Web services. According to a statement released by the group, this working draft is an attempt to eliminate duplicate messaging among end-users and administrators, help guarantee message delivery, and maintain the correct order in which messages are delivered.

The specification, which is based on extensions to Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), will improve how messages are handled and delivered in a number of Web-based applications, says Ed Julson, Sun group marketing manager for industry initiatives and standards. According to Julson, the WS-Reliability specification will improve both simple and complex Web functions ranging from simple message delivery to the proper ordering of forms and information in processes like online retail banking.

Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst for ZapThink, a web services analyst group, believes that while the WS-Reliability specification isn't breaking any new ground, it is providing a standard that can be applied to all Web messaging. Bloomberg believes that the only major controversy associated with this project is the fact that none of the members of this particular group are members of any other major Web standards partnerships that include industry giants like IBM and Microsoft.

"While there is nothing truly earthshaking here, it will be interesting to see how the two groups will handle issues, such as royalties as it relates to Web standards," Bloomberg says. "Will the two groups work together? Will IBM accept this?"

Though Bloomberg did acknowledge the potential for these standards to be contested, he says that it is unlikely that there will be contention over intellectual property rights in this matter.

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