Companies today need to go “beyond integration,” beyond merely enabling applications within a network to talk to one another, to “building services that enable (companies) to take advantage of their existing assets and put those assets together into new applications more easily, renovate and reuse those assets, migrate and consolidate where multiple platforms are becoming more expensive, and reduce costs,” says IONA Technologies CTO Eric Newcomer.
“In fact,” Newcomer pointed out, “IONA customers say there are too many solutions for that problem, and what they seek now is a way to reconcile all those different solutions and provide a common way of accessing, a common way of turning all of those different platforms and different middleware into services that can be put together very easily but not lose any of the qualities and features that they have been used to in mission-critical systems.”
So, he says, IONA is “moving as a company toward the standardization of software, toward the use of standardized Service Oriented Architectures based on Web services and XML, and using the power of those new technologies, to drive down costs while improving the results of the integration effort” through its new Artix product line.
Standardization is important, Newcomer observed, because, “Companies simply cannot afford to spend as much on software in the future as they are today and they cannot afford to keep specialized and dedicated IT staff to the extent that they are required to today. We see the industry move to standardization as inevitable as a result of those economical forces and pressures.”
Toward that end, “Everybody is using Web services. Everybody is adopting them and building products conforming to Web services, which gives a lot of credence and a lot of hope to the idea that Web services will contribute to, if not really finally succeed, at standardizing the software industry.”
But vendor disagreement over Web services standards is slowing their evolution, in turn keeping Web services from fulfilling their promise, Newcomer explained. “A lack of enterprise-class features for security, state management, fault tolerance, and transactions is holding up Web services’ potential to unite different kinds of middleware under a single, agile and adaptable service-oriented architecture.”
A wide range of development platforms and enterprise middleware environments used to host Web services has created a “Web services gap” between Web services’ current, still-basic standards and the proven, mature technologies they seek to integrate, Newcomer asserted.
“A lot of existing transactions in enterprises use a wide variety of technologies for interoperability and without the ability to bring those into the new world, the new world is never going to get started,” maintained Peter Cousins, technology director for IONA’s Artix line.
But WSDL (Web Service Definition Language), Cousins argued, could be a catalyst to help catapult Web services and Service Oriented Architectures to the next level. WSDL, he said, “really could have been called 'the enterprise service definition language' instead of the ‘Web Services Definition Language,' because WSDL is a complete service definition language that is suitable for any kind of existing system interaction.”
“If we have a single logical contract that can be reflected as multiple physical contracts, we have a real unifying principle which will allow enterprise architects to dramatically simplify the way in which they model their enterprise,” Cousins commented.
IONA describes Artix as “the software industry’s first-ever Web services platform built for mission critical application integration,” and Cousins detailed how IONA’s Artix products enable developers to take Web services to the next level, narrowing the Web services gap. IONA asserts Artix enables developers to build “secure, reliable, transactional and fully interoperable Web services that are ideal for mission-critical application integration.”
Among the many topics he addressed: multi-transport Web services, WSDL extensors, fixed format binding, MQ port extensors, locators built around WSDL-based naming services, and building reliable Web services. Regarding the latter, Cousins touched on fault-tolerant, load-balanced server pools, session management, scalable infrastructures, system recovery, .NET or Axis client services, security, and transactional Web services.
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