A Web Services Blueprint

Web services, one of the hottest buzzwords around the industry, has been heralded as the secret to integrating disparate systems and achieving the real-time enterprise. A new report from Forrester Research says that for Web services to do its magic, companies have to carefully build services-oriented architectures. "Every company needs a cheaper and easier way to give their customers and suppliers the information and services they need," says Ted Schadler, principal analyst at Forrester. "It's what the Internet promised but failed to immediately deliver. While basic Web-service technology has helped tremendously, firms need more. What they need is a full stack of infrastructure to make it easy to build secure, reliable services that a customer can easily use." According to Schadler, service-based architecture is a discipline that advocates a no-barriers approach to securely and reliably sharing data in any software application or platform. Although the architecture itself can't be bought, firms can build domain-specific XML networks based on service-oriented infrastructure and shared network services. "Basically, you can start with an application server and by using custom coding extend the server to handle things like security and transaction management capabilities," he says. Why is this approach better? Schadler says it offers more security and reliability, more flexibility and control, and more reusability than today's patchwork approach. But instead of custom building the infrastructure in-house, some companies may wish to buy technology from companies like AmberPoint and Blue Titan to quickly build shared application servers, Schadler says. Also, Schadler predicts that by 2006 many network vendors will ultimately deliver dedicated XML accelerators, but notes that today only startups like DataPower and Sarvega offer XML accelerator appliances to handle XML processing and message-based security. Whether homegrown or done through vendors, Schadler says Web services is definitely not a fad. In a recent Forrester poll of 877 large companies, 52 percent were actively deploying a Web-services initiative. And Schadler says that in another year or two, most large companies will be looking into deploying Web services via a serviced-based architecture, if they are not already running on one.
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