Proponents of Web services tout a number of benefits, including faster deployment and development cycles and easier back-end application integration. But implementing Web services also presents a number of obstacles. Builder.com interviewed Chris Brooks, chief technology officer for Corillian Corp., a provider of eFinance software and services, for insight on what you can expect from next-generation Web services, as well as standardization challenges you will face on the road to implementation. Brooks is also a member of the WS-I’s Sample Applications Working Group, which is responsible for building applications to serve as working examples for companies planning to implement Web services.
Builder.com: What are some of the trends you see for Web services?
Brooks: First and foremost, a reduction in hype and a realization that, in the end, this is just about software and distributed computing. Web services aren't a panacea nor an imposter…just a valuable tool within certain contexts.
Builder.com: What kind of contexts?
Brooks: I think the primary contexts are:
- Interoperability, e.g., application-to-application integration between different platforms, languages, etc.
- Enterprisewide services that need to be discoverable and interoperable (this is a refinement of the first). Things like customer profile, authentication, directory, etc.
- Business-to-business integration, generally involving industry-specific standards (IFX, OFX, etc.).
Mix of standards can slow Web services adoption
Builder.com: Will the mix of standards slow the growth of Web services? How long do you see this being an issue?
Brooks: I think this is possible in certain areas such as business process orchestration, where there appears to be some splintering. For basic Web services, though, I think things will only get better over the next year.
Builder.com: Do you believe that most organizations have accepted first-generation standards such as WSDL and SOAP? At Builder.com, we see a lot of interest in Web services but not a lot of hands-on implementations. Do you think that development teams will "get down to the business" of implementing Web services over the next year or so?
Brooks: Well, I know we are doing [hands-on implementations] today, as are several of our customers. For example, at a large bank in New York City, we integrated our Microsoft-based product with [its] J2EE environment using SOAP Web services. This was a case of application-to-application integration as mentioned above; more of a point-to-point integration rather than a true service-oriented architecture. And, yes, I think folks agree that WSDL/SOAP is enough to get started.
More on Web services architecture
You can get more of Brooks’ views on Web services architecture at an upcoming CNET event, Building a Web Services Foundation, scheduled for Dec. 10 and 11, 2002.