Unity Key to IBM’s Web Services Vision

At IBM, Web services are the next logical step moving forward in the middleware space, as the integrations they support help Big Blue give developers the ability to create application environments that work together.

“If you look at our e-business middleware, we’re an enabler for building new business services,” says Jan Jackman, vice president of strategy for IBM’s NetGen business. “So, we partner at the application level, but what we really do is provide a solid infrastructure for building and deploying new applications.”

The latest versions of IBM’s WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Studio Tools both incorporate Web services standards and protocols, including SOAP, WSDL and UDDI. IBM believes Web services offer tremendous potential for easily integrating different pieces of applications.

“What makes [Web services] really unique from previous methods is their means of communication,” says Jackman. “What they do is they use asynchronous messaging—which is based on universal Internet standards—and it allows components to talk to each other through firewalls and across different public networks.”

IBM views Web services as the next-generation of a component-based model. Whereas previous iterations of component computing required more synchronous standards for communications and more support for various protocols, IBM sees the power of Web services in their ability to open communications up to universal standards so enterprises don’t get tied into proprietary systems.

Jackman says, by deploying Web services an enterprise is opening up components of its business logic to a massive distribution channel that with UDDI can be a huge revenue boost. “The technology [behind Web services] enables a whole set of new applications to integrate in a more efficient way than was previously possible,” says Jackman. “So, from a revenue-generating perspective an [organization] now has a vehicle to distribute its application or application components to a much broader audience.”

For the enterprise, this means it can easily expose its suppliers and customers to pieces of business logic in order to streamline business operations. For instance, a supplier could hook into an enterprise’s inventory control component to measure product levels without doing any integration work if it were deployed as a Web service.

“It started with Java-based applications, XML for data exchange,” says Jackman. “[Web services] takes it to the next layer. Now we’ve got a communications protocol so that you can get application to application identification.

"I think you’re going to see uses within the enterprise, the service provider and the independent software vendor community of which all are going to take advantage of this technology and these protocols so that they can enable new revenue streams for their business."

For IBM, its middleware offerings are the most obvious fit for Web services. With the WebSphere line and related offerings under Tivoli and DB2, IBM can give developers the ability to build and work with applications that support the Web services standards and protocols so they can swiftly seize integration opportunities as the present themselves.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.