Backed by several industry giants, US startup company Bow Street Software last week announced it is taking initial steps to write open-source specifications for standardising XML as the lingua franca for network directories.
Flanked by representatives from Microsoft, IBM, Novell, Oracle and the Sun Microsystems-Netscape Alliance, Bow Street officials said a consensus is growing that XML (Extensible Markup Language) can be the standard for directory services that will enable businesses to move toward coordinating networks over the Internet.
"We believe directories are the only appropriate service platform to usher in the trend toward Internet management, support channels, customer service and all kinds of business applications," Jack Serfass, president and chief executive officer of Bow Street, said of the initiative. "And XML represents a whole new world for these business services."
Bow Street will coordinate an effort to develop a Directory Services Markup Language (DSML), Serfass said. More information about the project is available at www.dsml.org/, although proposed specifications will not be publicly available for two to three months, a company spokeswoman said.
Representatives from the likes of Microsoft and IBM endorsed the efforts and said they will participate in drawing up the specifications.
"XML is an outstanding standard that IBM and all the other vendors have rallied behind," said Jeffrey Jaffe, gen-eral manager of eNetwork Software and Security at IBM.
In addition to the multivendor directory initiative, Novell announced its own XML-based directory software product for integrating network services. Called DirXML, the software will allow applications, network operating systems, databases and network devices to be connected, the company said. The standardisation of XML "plays into our own products", said Chris Stone, vice president of strategic and corporate development at Novell.
Bow Street will announce its own XML-based Internet networking product in the next month, Serfass said.
Microsoft, which has opposed such open-source initiatives as the Linux operating system and Apache Web server, endorsed Bow Street's project.