What It Is: Founded in 1993 under the name SGML Open, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards worked on the standard generalized markup language until XML came along in 1998. Then it shifted its focus to XML and later Web services.
Its Agenda: Oasis focuses on the high-level Web services used in applications. It lets individual technical committees decide whether they want to consider specifications that have royalties attached to them.
What It Is: Founded in 1994 by the inventor of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web Consortium is famous for Internet standards such as HTTP and HTML.
Its Agenda: Though it has traditionally focused on the Web infrastructure level, W3C has moved into Web services as an extension of its core standards like XML. All submissions it ratifies into standards must be free of royalty fees.
What It Is: Founded in February 2002 by Microsoft, IBM and seven other vendors, the Web Services Interoperability Organization focuses on developing tested implementations of Web services standards in packages called profiles. Sun has called it “a shadow government for standards.”
Its Agenda: To deliver installation-ready Web services packages, complete with tools and guidelines.
What It Is: Cofounded by Sun in 2001, Liberty Alliance’s mission is to develop Web services specifications for identity management using security assertion markup language, an Oasis security standard.
Its Agenda: Liberty focuses exclusively on identity management and security issues.
Core Web Services Standards
XML (extensible markup language) The lingua franca of Web services. All Web services can communicate in XML.
SOAP (simple object access protocol) A communications protocol for Web services.
WSDL (Web services description language) An XML-based language for describing, finding and using Web services.
UDDI (universal description, discovery and integration) A phone directory for Web services that lists available Web services from different companies, their descriptions and instructions for using them.