IBM Pushes Live Web Services With New Downloads on alphaWorks

IBM Corp. will announce Monday the 3.0 release of its Web Services Toolkit, as well as trial versions of new hosting and SOAP-based middleware technologies, on its alphaWorks site for developers. The new offerings address some of the business issues of deploying Web services, such as provisioning, metering and security.

The Web Services Toolkit, which was first introduced in July 2000, is IBM’s lowest level download for new Web services technologies on alphaWorks. It has served as a testing ground for IBM’s Web services technologies, allowing developers to gain familiarity and provide feedback on new functionality before it is merged into IBM’s middleware line. Now, in conjunction with the release of its Web Services Toolkit 3.0, IBM is adding two new Web services downloads to alphaWorks, the Web Services Hosting Toolkit and Web Services Gateway.

IBM’s Web Services Hosting Toolkit is a technology preview of a provisioning and metering tool for Web services. With tools for assigning billing rates to Web services, as well as functionality for verifying and authorizing users and generating bills based on Web service use, IBM is promoting its hosting toolkit as a way for companies to easily wrap their Web services in revenue-generating models. Bob Sutor, director of e-business standards strategy for IBM, anticipates the technology will ultimately find a home under the WebSphere Commerce Suite line of products once it passes the preview process on alphaWorks.

The Web Services Gateway deals with the security element of exposing Web services in a business setting. It is designed to be a single point of control for a set of Web services. It intercepts messages and can make decisions on how and in what form to route messages without creating new interceptors for each access channel.

Meanwhile, the new elements of IBM’s base toolkit offer support for SOAP 3.0 in its Apache AXIS form for all of the IBM Web services demos. And it also offers support for the UDDI4J application programming interface, which is a client-side Java API for communicating with UDDI version two registries that was jointly introduced last month by IBM, HP and SAP. IBM, HP and SAP are all UDDI node operators.

Sutor says Big Blue sees 2002 as the year in which Web services will be implemented in live environments on a widespread scale. “We’re trying to think of 2002 as the year where all these pieces of Web services start coming together,” he says.

A “year-end” report for 2001 by IT analyst firm META Group also points to 2002 as an evolutionary year for Web services. According to META, the Web services concept will move from an experimental phase to a low-level implementation phase in enterprise-sized organizations during the coming year.

However, Sutor believes one of the key areas that need to be considered before Web services can be launched into real-world settings, is how business models can be built around them. “If I’m putting out a [Web service], I may want people to actually pay for it,” says Sutor. IBM’s hosting toolkit and gateway technology are initial attempts by Big Blue to address these issues. Sutor says interoperability will also be a big hot button in 2002 for Web services developers. He says he expects not only IBM, but also the entire industry to make substantial efforts this year to address how Web services will work together.

IBM’s Web Services Toolkit 3.0, Web Services Hosting Toolkit and Web Services Gateway all run on both Linux and Windows operating systems, and are currently available for download at alphaWorks (www.alphaworks.ibm.com/).

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.