Enterprise Software

Watch for these Web services trends and roadblocks

Web services promise easier application integration, but will the mix of standards slow down their adoption? What's in store for next-generation Web services? One expert sounds off.

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.

Next-generation trends
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.

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