Web services drive distributive computing

The main driving force behind IT industry heavyweights’ push to bring real-time computing strategies into the marketplace is the adoption of Web services, according to vendors.

So recently, Sun Microsystems Inc., IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., to name a few, outlined a vision for customers who need real-time application access across multiple environments.

IBM’s On Demand initiative wouldn’t succeed without Web services, said Arthur Ryman, Web services tools architect at IBM Toronto labs in Markham, Ont. “Web services are a key enabling technology, just the way the Internet as a whole is an enabling technology,” Ryman said. “There’s no way you could do end-to-end integration without the Internet and, similarly, there’s no way you could make that happen without Web services.”

As the On Demand initiative – the notion of integration between dissimilar systems – is now at the core of IBM’s computing strategy, and Ryman said Web services are central.

Not only do Web services provide an open interface, but the reusable service that initially started as an integration process between companies is now being used for integration by large corporations. And all of this occurring behind their firewalls.

“A big company is just a small version of the Internet because a big company still has dissimilar services,” he added. “Web services shield the outside world from changes in our implementation but behind the firewall we can change our implementation [without affecting anyone].”

Until now there wasn’t a need for Web services because the motive to create them wasn’t there, Ryman said. Networks weren’t as pervasive 10 years ago as they are now, and with so many global networks, a company cannot be told to upgrade its systems.

So distributive computing models such as CORBA, Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM), Distributive Computing Environment (DCE) and Remote Method Invocation (RMI) in the Java space didn’t dominate in the past because they were dependent on the notion of shared middleware, he added.

“Web services is the first distributive computing technology that is designed for dissimilar systems,” he said. “Now, with the Internet, everybody is on the Web and there is a greater motive for adopting these standards….Web concepts have been applied to the concept of distributive computing.”

Lynn Anderson, vice-president of enterprise marketing at HP Canada, is touting a similar strategy to IBM, with a different name – Adaptive Enterprise. Anderson said the success of HP’s vision is dependent on the adoption of the Web Services Management Framework (WSMF). HP recently submitted WSMF for industry review to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) with backing from companies like Sun Microsystems Inc., BEA Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp.

WSMF is an architecture for managing computing resources – including Web services themselves – through Web services, Mississauga, Ont.-based Anderson said, adding that the push for the WSMF fits with the company’s Adaptive Enterprise strategy which operates on a consumption-based model by matching business demand and processes to IT supply.

“The framework is the notion of managed objects and their relationships,” she added.

A key parcel of the Adaptive Enterprise is the Web services framework. Web services, Anderson explained, are a foundation by which all of the virtual IT assets will actually expose management information about themselves and how these can be managed.

“Most IT environments out there are multi-vendor environments and therefore publishing to a standard by which these objects will be managed and communicated to, allows companies to have flexibility of multi-vendor environments by being able to move resources from applications or services on the fly,” Anderson said.

Right now, the key for both companies is focusing on making Web services work through a common set of open standards.

Ryman said it’s only a matter of time before those standards are available to deliver flexibility, interoperability and are broadly adopted across the board.



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