Steeling for Web services

Looking to bring e-marketplaces and e-commerce applications into the realm of Web services, Commerce One, Ariba, i2 Technologies and VerticalNet are working to arm their wares with the necessary protocols.

Commerce One Inc. is currently rewriting its applications and platform with support for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration), and WSDL (Web Services Description Language). Beta versions are due by the end of this year, according to Mark Hoffman, CEO of the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company.

By the end of this year, Ariba Inc. will release Version 2.0 of its Spend Management Suite, which will allow its customers to use Ariba’s APIs to build their own Web services for BEA’s WebLogic and IBM’s WebSphere application servers, said officials at Ariba in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Dallas-based i2 first exposed Web service protocols in Version 5.2 of its suite of value-chain management products announced last month and will in essence go public with Web Services in Version 5.2.2 expected to be released in the third quarter, according to Chis Kraus, senior technical specialist at i2.

The company will publish in a UDDI directory its Available to Promise and its Distributed Order Management modules as Web services. The Distributed Order Management module will enable customers to interact across multiple ERP systems to broker orders.

VerticalNet, which has undergone a transformation during the past year, now focuses on collaborative supply-chain solutions, not unlike i2. The company will launch a set of Web service components in the first quarter.

“The [B2B vendors] are scrambling to find that special sauce, trying to find something that will make their services more viable because they are just not getting the traction. Supposedly adding Web services functionality will help, but a lot of people just don’t know how to use it,” said Ken Vollmer, research director at Giga Information in Cambridge, Mass.

Vollmer added that mature Web services functionality is not yet in place, and neither are standards for reliability or security.

“Where it can make a difference is in the B2B area because Web services can be a lot easier than setting up point-to-point connections with every business partner,” said Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis in Sterling, Va. “The B2B vendors are still missing the pieces for getting data out of back-end systems. They rely on the EAI [enterprise application integration] products for that.”

Bringing Web Services to Market

Vendors are adding support for Web services to their wares.