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Your concerns are definitely warranted, but - in short - the situation
I would recommend you track 4 particular items related to Web services
(listed in no meaningful order)
(1) W3C Web Services Choreography Working Group 
This group began its work in January of this year - it is addressing (in
general) the need for a common interface and composition language for
Web Services choreography (a.k.a. orchestration, collaboration,
coordination, conversations, etc.). The Working Group is considering as
input (among other specifications) the Web Services Conversation
Language (WSCL) and Web Service Choreography Interface (WSCI).
(2) Global XML Web Services Architecture (GXA)
GXA is an application-level protocol framework built on the foundation
of XML and SOAP that is designed to provide a consistent model for
building infrastructure-level protocols for Web services and
applications. It currently consists of 14 specifications (WS-Security,
which is under OASIS, is one) - they are authored by Microsoft, with
co-authorship by IBM, Verisign, BEA Systems, RSA Security and SAP (in
various combinations). WS-Security addresses end-to-end security, where
trust domains need to be crossed - much like in your inter-company
Two other specifications - WS-Transaction and WS-Coordination - are also
very much related to your scenario. These 2 specifications are mentioned
on the W3C Web Services Choreography Charter page as examples of
industry efforts at defining choreography languages
I am actually presenting on GXA at a conference here in Washington D.C.
(3) Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I)
WS-I is an open, industry organization chartered to promote Web services
interoperability across platforms, operating systems, and programming
languages. To date, they have released items such as:
(a) A Basic Profile , which consists of a set of non-proprietary Web
services specifications along with clarifications and amendments to
those specifications which promote interoperability.
(b) Usage Scenarios , which describes the WS-I Usage Scenarios to be
used with the Basic Profile. The scenarios presented in this document
describe fundamental Web service design patterns that can be combined
and built upon like building blocks.
(4) "Other", starting with WS-Reliability 
This is a "catch-all", to include those items outside of (1), (2), and
(3) above. The WS-Reliability specification, despite its name format, is
not related in any way to the GXA "WS-XX" specifications. It is a
specification for open, reliable Web services messaging including
guaranteed delivery, duplicate message elimination and message ordering,
enabling reliable communication between Web services.
This specification is being continued under OASIS, and a new Technical
Committee has been formed . I am a member of this TC, and am very
excited about its beginnings (our first conference call is taking place
at the end of this month).
Hope you find this information helpful.
Booz | Allen | Hamilton
> Hi All,
> The problems with a simple (?) list server suggest a far greater concern to
> me; namely, who would be prepared for their "web-enabled" business systems
> to come to a grinding halt simply because someone else's "web services"
> have? In other words, how smart would it be to make your info. systems
> reliant on someone else's? I can't see any sensible business manager buying
> into such a scenario... Any thoughts?
> Matt Bennett
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