Integration Veterans IONA Commit to Web Services

IONA, a firm with 10-plus years experience in the integration services space, this week gave a nod of support to the Web services community, introducing its End 2 Anywhere strategy around open standards.

The first product to be launched under IONA’s E2A initiative is the Orbix E2A Web services integration platform. Part integration development tool, part application server, Orbix E2A brings together IONA’s existing business-to-business integration technology and its XML Bus standards engine. The solution is slated for public release on Dec. 15.

John Rymer, vice president of product marketing for IONA, describes E2A as the beginning of a wholehearted commitment by IONA to Web services. “We see [Web services] as a better approach to integration,” says Rymer. “And we plan to bring this capability to all the markets that we service.”

IONA has been ramping its efforts in the Web services space for several months now, adding Web services support to its mainframe integration tools, and working to achieve interoperability between Microsoft .NET and Sun Microsystems’ J2EE platform.

With a base of more than 5,000 developers, IONA’s adoption of Web services is a major coup for the standards and protocols on which the concept is based. Orbix E2A will support Simple Object Access Protocol, Universal Description, Discovery and Integration, and Web Services Description Language.

Last month, IONA announced plans to integrate its solution set with Sun ONE, the Palo Alto-based computing giant’s platform for building Web services. Although the agreement gives IONA close ties to Sun’s Web services play, Rymer says one of the differentiating characteristics of E2A will be its support for both Sun ONE and .NET.

“We have never throughout our history picked sides,” says Rymer. “Our goal has always been to build integrations regardless of platform.”

However, Rymer concedes, there are instances in which .NET doesn’t mesh with IONA’s customer base. “Some of the pieces of .NET we don’t feel are that relevant to us,” he says. “You won’t see us doing a whole lot with Microsoft on C#.”

IONA’s move to Web services standards and protocols is based on the flexibility they will offer for integrating systems both inside and outside the firewall. “With Web services, because they are services interfaces that are built on widely accepted standards, you don’t have to have the same technology on either end,” says Rymer.

CORBA, for instance, is a market in which IONA has had tremendous success, but also one in which creating integrations can be difficult because Microsoft shops don’t support the platform. Although IONA will continue to support its CORBA-based products, Rymer says the company will increasingly look to promote its Web services offerings instead.

According to Rymer, IONA expects Web services to be deployed primarily behind the firewall in the immediate future. But, he says, the promise of integration outside the firewall is what IONA is betting on.

Joanne Friedman, vice president of electronic business strategies with IT consultancy the META Group, says she sees many vendors in the integrations services space moving toward Web services. “It’s going to require a heavy financial commitment from everybody,” says Friedman. “But I think they will all start to see rewards from it.”

Of IONA’s Orbix E2A offering, Friedman says, “This is not an application server with plug-ins. [IONA] has built a truly integrated offering.” According to Friedman, most of the Web services integration platforms on the market today are based on bundles of existing products.”

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to 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.