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Web services are in the vanguard of a new era in IT, an era still in its infancy, one in an evolutionary phase of development that will culminate in a true revolution, according to META Group Program Director Mark Vanston during the expoQ webinar, "Moving To Web Services Via The Mainframe," part of our “Best Practices For Websphere” webinar series, sponsored by Candle Corporation.

Vanston says META sees IT as having first gone through a hardware-dominated era, then software, and now META feels IT is entering the era of the network, with network virtualization enabling business virtualization and businesses benefiting from increasingly dynamic supply, production and distribution networks. META refers to it as the Xweb era. Vanston says it really began with the advent of HTTP, HTML, and TCP/IP, and is being moved further along with the growing popularity of Web services.

Ultimately, he adds, the prospects are “very exciting in terms of looking at how applications interact and are integrated, how we can better utilize our business processes, and how we can better interact with our business partners and end-users.” In these days of tight budgets, Vanston says Web services provide a valuable vehicle for collaboration. And Vanston says Web services will mean revitalizing and enhancing the Web’s functionality without layering on complicating extensions.

“It IS a revolution. It WILL change the technology,” Vanston says of the new era.

But what of the “old?” Candle senior architect Peter Rhys Jenkins says mainframes “run this planet. They’re the ideal platform, where all your jewels are, from an IT standpoint.” And alas, says Rhys Jenkins, Web services can enable companies to carry out numerous mainframe functions in a much easier, more efficient way than companies are used to. “It’s real easy to do. It’s not rocket science,” he quips.

“CICS, batch and IMS tasks, transactions and jobs can all be exposed as Web services,” Rhys Jenkins points out. He outlines how to go about it, and describes a real-life case.

One example he offers: “You can expose an existing CICS transaction as a Web service. You send a little SOAP message with a transaction name and a few parameters and bingo! Your old, existing legacy application, without a single line of code change, will run and return data in your SOAP envelope. And that means no screen-scraping.”

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