IBM Pushes Live Web Services With New Downloads on alphaWorks

IBM Corp. announced Monday the 3.0 release ofits Web Services Toolkit, as well as trial versions of new hosting andSOAP-based middleware technologies, on its alphaWorks site for developers. Thenew 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, isIBM’s lowest level download for new Web services technologies on alphaWorks. Ithas served as a testing ground for IBM’s Web services technologies, allowingdevelopers to gain familiarity and provide feedback on new functionality beforeit is merged into IBM’s middleware line. Now, in conjunction with the releaseof its Web Services Toolkit 3.0, IBM is adding two new Web services downloadsto alphaWorks, the Web Services Hosting Toolkit and Web Services Gateway.

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

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

Meanwhile, the new elements of IBM’s base toolkit offer support for SOAP3.0 in its Apache AXIS form for all of the IBM Web services demos. And it alsooffers support for the UDDI4J application programming interface, which is aclient-side Java API for communicating with UDDI version two registries thatwas jointly introduced last month by IBM, HP and SAP. IBM, HP and SAP are allUDDI node operators.

Sutor says Big Blue sees 2002 as the year in which Web services will beimplemented in live environments on a widespread scale. “We’re trying to thinkof 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 pointsto 2002 as an evolutionary year for Web services. According to META, the Webservices concept will move from an experimental phase to a low-levelimplementation phase in enterprise-sized organizations during the coming year.

However, Sutor believes one of the key areas that need to be consideredbefore Web services can be launched into real-world settings, is how businessmodels can be built around them. “If I’m putting out a [Web service], I maywant people to actually pay for it,” says Sutor. IBM’s hosting toolkit andgateway 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 servicesdevelopers. He says he expects not only IBM, but also the entire industry tomake substantial efforts this year to address how Web services will worktogether.

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