Web groups tackle standards confusion

International standards bodies OASIS and W3C have announced that they're teaming up on a forum about security standards for Web services. But teamwork may not be enough to educate enterprises about standards

Last week the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released details about a forum addressing what development various standards groups were carrying out.

Daniel Weitzner, technology and society domain leader at W3C, said in a statement that it had been at work on the foundation technologies for the Web and Web services. "Now as people are looking at the upper layers, we want to make sure these pieces work together smoothly."

But there is still confusion about who is doing what. "People are very much aware that security standards are critical for Web services, but there are a lot of questions about who is doing what and how the pieces fit together," said Karl Best, director of technical operations for OASIS.

Commenting on the issue of standards development more generally, John Brand, senior program director of electronic business strategies at industry analyst Meta Group, said there was sometimes over-complication of what originally were simplistic standards addressing some pretty specific needs.

Brand said there was difficulty in getting the balance right, so that organisations didn't end up generating overally complex and meaningless standards.

He believes that the various standards bodies recognise that some parts of their functions overlap. "It makes sense for them to work on those overlapping functions together," Brand said.

The IT industry is fairly quick in developing standards compared to other sectors, he said. "[There are a] large number of ideas out there and consolidation to take the best ideas and turn them into workable solutions," Brand said.

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