Web Services: IBM Gets It
IBM learned the hard way that open standards is the only strategy.Its hard to get excited about middleware; harder still about a middleware architecture. So when IBM rolled out its Web services strategy earlier this month, we reached for an extra strong cup of coffee. But we have to admit, theres more to like than at first meets the eye in IBMs approach to tying together systems and data for the purpose of e-business. Big Blues strategy (for which, unexpectedly, there is no formal name or acronym) compares favorably with competing middleware schemes such as Microsofts .Net and Sun ONE. All the blueprints include prominent support of Extensible Markup Language; SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol); and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration, but beyond those common denominators, IBM shows an unmistakably greater sense of openness and customer-centricity. A thorough point-by-point comparison of the three approaches would take pages, but consider: Microsoft supports SOAP but only on its platforms and with "approved" languages. Sun supports SOAP, too, as long as Java comes with it. With IBM, customers can use the combination of language, operating system and hardware that makes sense for them, not the one that furthers the platform ambitions of their supplier.
In general, IBM "gets it" when it comes to multivendor interoperability on the Web. And although Linux was not part of IBMs Web services announcement, its worth noting that IBM has a significant Linux strategy and Microsoft and Sun do not.