In an attempt to ensure consistency in the development of Web services, IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., and BEA Systems Inc. on Thursday will announce a software group the purpose of which will be to promote existing and future standards as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Organization for the Advancement Of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

According to those who are familiar with the charter of the new group, called the Web Service Interoperability Organization, it will campaign to better educate developers about how to build Web services as well as advocate the consistency of building block standards such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration), and the WSDL (Web Services Description Language).

And, perhaps more importantly, the group will be actively encouraging the consistency of future Web services standards to come that address fundamental capabilities such as transactions management systems, security, identification, and authorization, sources said.

“This group will not be all about developing new standards, but making sure existing ones like SOAP and UDDI interoperate well. If there are differences in SOAP 1.2 and SOAP 1.3, then they might see a need for some testing benchmarks and other tools to make sure things are interoperating more deeply than just being able to talk to each other,” said one industry source familiar with the group’s charter. “They are not coming up with some silver bullet that makes Java and .Net interoperate better or bigger scale things like that,” he said.

Members of the new group, particularly IBM and Microsoft, may use it as a platform to also educate users and developers about the different approaches each may take in implementing Web services while still remaining within the parameters established by the standards.

“I think the real story here is trying to lay down and ensure a solid and level playing field for all participants to play on, but it is also about the battle for the hearts, minds, and wallets for the developers of Web services,” said another industry source. “There is more than a little money to be made with Web services in the future,” he added.

By Thursday, there could be several other vendors joining the group, but as of late this afternoon no others had committed to joining, according to sources.

Microsoft and IBM officials declined comment.

The World Wide Web Consortium is at

OASIS is at