Thursday, February 20, 2003

80/20 Rule on Web Services (Free-to-Royalty)

Eric Newcomer, the CTO for Iona, recently commented on the intellectual property rights around web services. Although he makes no clear stand, it appears as though he prefers having ALL of the web service standards remain open and free:

"The path we take to the future may well depend upon the outcome of the current standoff around intellectual property rights in two key areas: orchestration and reliable messaging. Some of the vendors developing specifications for these areas are raising the question of possibly charging patent or royalty payments for the rights to implement the specifications. The leading standards bodies, and traditional industry practice around software standards to date, tend to favor royalty-free implementations. "

He goes on to comment that:
"It's ironic that software vendors propose standards in the name of benefiting their customers while still trying to maintain control over the specification adoption and evolution process in support of their own interests. "

Personally, I find the idea of blending open standards and royalty-based standards an interesting proposition. I find no irony in helping customers while making money at the same time. I do however find lunacy in giving everything away for free and commoditizing the products. The real question that Eric and friends must answer is are we trying to create a valuable market around web services. If so, the 80-20 rule (free-to-royalty) should be strongly considered.

My company is one of the few companies that has an implementation of a BPEL4WS Orchestration Engine . As a technical person, I wish everything could be free and open. As a CEO and businessman, I want to see the royalty in place creating a financial barrier to entry.

My compliments to IBM and Microsoft for creating business models that are good for their customers, good for them and good for other ISV's.

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