Putting More Smarts in Web Services

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-02-19

This month, Sun Microsystems Inc., in introducing Sun ONE, became the latest company to outline a Web services strategy, joining others such as Microsoft Corp., IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Oracle Corp. Suns chief technology officer, Greg Papadopoulos, sat down with eWeek Senior Writer Roberta Holland to discuss the initiative.

eWeek: What pieces of the Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) strategy are here today?

Papadopoulos: The base thing that Sun ONE is about is, once you construct a Web service, how do you get not only services to talk to one another well but provide a sense of context for the services that turn them into something we label as smart services? Whats there today is, going to Sun and our partners, you can reliably construct a scalable Web service. And so the next step is to really add on top of that—how do we uniformly get the services to talk to one another, and what is the sense of policy, if you will, that goes around it to describe things like user context?

eWeek: In terms of getting Web services to cooperate, what technologies are key?

Papadopoulos: Fundamentally, youve got to keep it simple. We have to agree that its going to be XML [Extensible Markup Language], and thats going to be our syntax. Its sort of like agreeing on using an alphabet, but after that, anybody can make any words they want. UDDI [Universal Description, Discovery and Integration] is a great way, we think, to get started in the Web services directory and discovery. Were really encouraged in the direction SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol] is going now under W3C [World Wide Web Consortium].

eWeek: Do you think there is confusion with all the various Web services strategies?

Papadopoulos: At a high-level vision, they cant be very different. Everybody has come to this architecture point that its services delivered across the Internet. ... There will be a lot of similarities because these services will be implemented by different people across the country. ... We need to get them to cooperate.

eWeek: Early criticism of Sun ONE has been that it is too Java-centric. Did Sun take into account developers desires for more than one language?

Papadopoulos: A tremendous amount of code that runs on Solaris is C++ code. Its not to say that C++ is over and done with. ... However, any time one is thinking about really writing something tantamount to business logic, you can decide to support lots of languages, but really what youre saying is, I have to modify each of these individual languages to get them to understand this new environment. I havent seen a lot of pressure to be multilingual.

eWeek: What else is important for users to know about Web services?

Papadopoulos: There is no single answer that the whole industry is going to shoot for statically. This is just wave upon wave of innovation. The basic trend now is youve got to take things you used to think of as applications or binaries and deliver them as Web services, and now were taking the next step of seeing how these services interact.

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