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By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-03-10 Print this article Print

: Tech Outlook 2003"> Within those application spaces, purpose-built data representations required a hodgepodge of specialized data connections—as if the Xerox copiers in one department needed a 170-volt power outlet, while the Minolta machines in another needed 190 volts (but used a confusingly similar power plug).

The transforming effect of Web services amounts to going through the offices; identifying common components of what people need and do; and buying the needed items of furniture and equipment in quantity, to be combined as needed in any given space—a file cabinet for an engineer here, three file cabinets for the corporate attorney there. All the new appliances use the same basic utilities and connections, or provide appropriate adapters or transformers as needed, instead of requiring redundant systems throughout an entire building.

Pervasive open networks have also opened the IT office space to the outside world, broadening workers access to resources but also exposing them to unprecedented threats.

The open-plan office of networked IT is a poor risk unless theres good security at the points of outside entry, as well as a clean-desk policy that prevents casual and inappropriate access to sensitive information. This is analogous to effective network security at the physical layers, robust design at the application layers and defense in depth for enterprise data.

Endless discussion has addressed the need for boundary security, but intrinsic flaws in applications leave administrators with an unattractive choice: either shutting their doors, or leaving them open to skilled invaders as well as increasingly nervous customers.

The standardization of protocols and data formats has converged on what Microsoft Corp., under the rubric of Windows DNA, identified as the tripod of application integration: TCP/IP for transport, HTTP for interaction and XML for representation. The last of these, XML, challenges development toolmakers to integrate flexible and powerful tools for XML authoring, inspection and dynamic transformation into their tool sets.

Borlands Delphi, in the tradition of Turbo Pascal, was one of the first to put XML facilities in a high-productivity development system, but many shops want a tool that isnt tied to any single language— Pascal-based or otherwise. Altova Inc.s XMLSpy 5 (see middle screen) has earned eWeek Labs Analysts Choice honors by combining versatile editing power with broad support for varied database platforms, multiplying that power by easing integration with Java and C++ programming. We havent yet seen an integrated environment whose XML tools were in the same class, although Oracle Corp.s JDeveloper deserves mention for its use of XML throughout its own structure for ease of customization. Emphasizing the breakdown of traditional discipline boundaries, tools such as Corel Corp.s Ventura 10 combine programmable XML transformations with more traditional publishing power. Developers need to be open to new aids like these.

With services being produced and consumed across the enterprise boundary, modeling and testing take on new importance. For example, Microsofts Visual Studio .Net deserves praise for its integration of Web service hosting and testing facilities into the development cycle, and tools such as Popkin Software and Systems Inc.s System Architect offer more capable process simulation functions.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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