IBM Eyes Hosted Web Services

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-09-27

IBM Eyes Hosted Web Services

Signaling an increasing maturity of Web services, IBM is working on a WebSphere-based platform for hosting Web services. Meanwhile, other players, including Microsoft Corp. and Computer Associates International Inc., continue to line up to prepare customers and implementers for the onslaught of Web services.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is putting its XML and Web services standards and development tools behind an internal project, dubbed Project Allegro, that will result in a hosted Web services offering, according to Bob Sutor, director of e-business standards strategy at IBM. The service will be available next year under the WebSphere name and will feature technology from IBMs Tivoli systems management and security software, as well as WebSphere commerce, portal and application server technology, Sutor said in an interview with eWEEK Friday.

"We showed a very early version of this last January under what we called the Web services hosting technology," Sutor said. "That was on alphaworks [an IBM software development site]. We plan for what we call Allegro to be available on developerworks. And that will be some type of limited download—a pre-product version of this that should be available by the end of the year. Next year this will be available as something branded under the WebSphere name."

Sutor said the solution essentially will be a method of helping enterprises bill for Web services.

"There are going to be situations where I need to deploy a Web service, where I need to make sure only the right people access the Web service," he said. "Once I deploy this thing, Im going to have to monitor how well it behaves performance-wise. Im going to need to meter the use of this Web service—how many times users invoke it and for how long they invoke it. Once I have this info Im going to have to combine it with some form of electronic contract that spells out how it is Im supposed to bill you for it."

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Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, of Cambridge, Mass., said that Project Allegro is ahead of its time. Billing and metering will be an important aspect of Web services, but not until late 2004 or early 2005, after such issues as security, management and transactions mature and are dealt with. Other industry observers say another key issue that needs to be settled before billing and metering becomes important is determining who would want to pay for Web services.

Sutor said Project Allegro allows for flexibility in handling all of these issues.

Bloomberg is skeptical. "Business models that require paying for content online have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to establish," he said. "Why will paying for Web services online be any different?"

Meanwhile, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., and CA, of Islandia, N.Y., this week announced plans to team to host a series of technical training sessions to help developers build Web services based on Microsofts .Net technology. The sessions will be held prior to the Microsoft Enterprise Conference in Anaheim, Calif., next month. The companies plan to cover the gamut of XML Web services development and deployment, and will focus on developing Web services with Microsoft Visual Studio .Net and managing and monitoring them with CAs AllFusion Harvest Change Manager and Unicenter systems management solution.

Also this week, Dimension Data Holdings plc, a London-based technology services company with U.S. operations in Reston, Va., announced a pre-configured Web services platform with hardware, software and infrastructure packaged to enable organization to pilot and then deploy actual production-level Web services. The company provides a server loaded with application software, a Web server, a database server and an application server. It also offers the Dimension Data Web Services Framework with monitoring and security features, sample applications and bundled services, the company said.

Dimension Data officials said its server platform is based on .Net technology, and that the company will offer versions of its platform for Java 2 Enterprise Edition- and Linux-based systems later this year.

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