IBMs Allegro Clears Up Web Services

Allegro is brilliant, not so much in technology as in simplicity.

Well all eventually tire of the term "Web services," and it will go away. Until then, it will be used by every surviving tech company dozens of times per day. Then someone will figure out what the term actually means. But the date for the disappearance is beyond my powers of prognostication.

In the meantime, there are companies building products based on Web services that will attempt to enable other companies to deploy Web services. When considering my earlier point about the lack of clarity of the term, this notion becomes exceedingly difficult to follow.

IBM acknowledges as much but is still plowing ahead with Project Allegro, a series of Web services building blocks themselves built on Web services standards. Bob Sutor, director of e-business standards strategy, recently attempted to clear up IBMs Web services strategy. Sutor said that in a couple of years, Web services standards will basically be set. Its time now to start building the applications that will let customers take advantage of them.

Allegro is brilliant, not so much in technology as in simplicity. Allegro includes facilities for tracking Web service usage, guaranteeing SLAs and bill handling. Customers can host the Web service themselves or, of course, they can turn to IBMs Global Services—and pay and pay until something turns up. IBM has realized that what gets measured gets done. Software vendors clearly need metrics for how Web components can be used. IT departments also need to guarantee uptime. In the Web model, this is very difficult to track in all but the most simplistic ways.

IBM has started to roll Allegro (along with everything else) into WebSphere. Early versions of Allegro have already been released in what is called the WebSphere Hosting Technology on the IBM AlphaWorks site.

The full technology is still a couple of years out. In the meantime, IBM has strong competition from Sun—with its "big friggin Webtone switch," as CEO Scott McNealy called the system that serves up Web services in a fail-safe mode during a recent conversation with eWeek. IBMs Allegro and Suns Webtone switch are getting close. But the best part about them is that theyre showing some tangible evidence that Web services are not a figment of our imaginations.

When are the real applications coming—and will IT be too scared to use them? Write to me at