Web Services Tools on the Way

 
 
By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2001-12-14
 
 
 

With Web services looming ever larger on the horizon, the application development and EAI camps are jockeying to make their platforms preeminent in the space.

Coming from the application development side, BEA Systems Inc. is readying new tools and a simplified architecture that it said will make it easier for non-programmers to develop Web services.

Separately, enterprise application integration software vendors Iona Technologies Corp. and iWay Software each are rolling out Web services frameworks to integrate disparate information systems.

The net result is that corporate developers will have increased speed in creating software that presents business application services populated with data from a varied of systems via the Web.

BEAs new offering, code-named Cajun and expected in the first half of next year, is both a platform and set of tools that will allow developers to build integrated Web services without having deep Java knowledge.

With Cajun, business developers will not have to learn either the complicated concepts of object-oriented design or the complex Java application program interfaces because most of that work will be embedded in the Cajun architecture.

Cajun includes problem sets that address the typical scenarios developers face when creating Web services, according to officials at BEA, of San Jose, Calif. With a Cajun problem set the developer would ideally need to write only four or five lines of code to accomplish complex tasks, such as talking with Enterprise Java Beans, or integrating messaging or other databases, officials said.

Cajun implements the core technology of Crossgain Corp., the software development company BEA purchased in July.

Cajuns graphical interface appeals to Sam Patterson, CEO of ComponentSource Inc., an online marketplace for software development tools.

"As software is changing it is being done in a building block sort of way, which is component based, and those components are being Web enabled to become Web services," said Patterson, in Kennesaw, Ga. "It is more about dragging and dropping components, visually being able to link components."

Patterson, who started out as a C++ programmer, said the visual nature of Cajun would appeal to some developers, but not to everyone.

On the flip side, EAI vendors say application development is not where the power of Web services lie. Rather, its in the integration platform. In this spirit, Iona, of Waltham, Mass., next week will begin shipping its Orbix E2A platform for Web services.

E2A, an acronym for "End to Anywhere," has two parts: an Application Server Platform where developers build Web services, and a Web Services Integration Platform, or WSIP, that processes services that come from other sources.

WSIP has an EAI capability, a business-to-business collaboration capability with support for XML and Web services standards, and a business process modeling capability. It includes the XML-based infrastructure that Iona gained when it bought Netfish Technologies Corp. this year.

The Netfish acquisition was meant to play a key role in Ionas strategy to connect companies enterprise networks with external networks of business partners, suppliers and customers.

"[The platform] illustrates how easy this is in terms of integration," said Patrick OBrien, vice president of product strategy at Iona. "You dont have to change what the developers are doing [to create Web services]. And you dont have to train them to use some integration technology."

Separately, iWay, a unit of Information Builders Inc., this week introduced its iWay Business Services framework, which will provide access to more than 140 proprietary information systems.

The iWay framework provides a graphical workbench to automatically generate iWay Business Services, which are Web Services that incorporate or reuse data or function from existing systems, such as enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems.

The systems can then become interoperable with each other via the Internet, and data can be shared, said iWay officials, in New York.

Rocket Fuel