Web Services Taking Root in the Enterprise

Web services players discuss why enterprises can't afford not to deploy the technology.

eWEEK Labs recently conducted a roundtable discussion on Web services. Moderated by Technology Editor Peter Coffee, the roundtable comprised key players in several areas of the Web services space. The discussion centered on where Web services are as a technology, where the industry is in achieving effective consensus on standards, and how the business models are developing for using those standards and technologies.


  • Gregg Bjork, senior vice president, Products and Services, Systinet Corp.,Cambridge, Mass.
  • Neil Charney, director, Platform Strategy Group, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.
  • Ted Farrell, chief architect and director of strategy, Oracle9i Application Development Tools, Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif.
  • Tyson Hartman, .Net practice director and technology fellow, Avanade, Seattle
  • Karla Norsworthy, director, Dynamic e-Business Technologies, IBM, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Benjamin Renaud, Deputy CTO, BEA Systems Inc., San Francisco
  • Gordon Van Huizen, CTO, Sonic Software Corp., Bedford, Mass.

Weve heard a lot from Microsoft during the last year about the rebuilding of its development suite and the whole Microsoft platform around more of a services model with the .Net Framework. Where are you in that progress?

Charney: Microsoft has been thinking and working around Web services for quite some time now. When we announced our .Net initiative, one of the biggest challenges was that it was the first time we, or many people in the industry, were even talking about this concept of Web services. Since that time, a few years ago, weve been implementing Web service support across everything weve done and everything were doing moving forward.

Where is Oracle on the migration toward XML as almost the native format of data?

Farrell: Oracle believes in the database for storage of things, and weve added the XML capabilities to the database to allow users to actually store XML components and objects in the database and access those with the same systems that they are familiar with.

As far as enabling everything else, the real object is to be able to get the data and enhance what you have and expose that as Web services. So, rather than taking the approach of rewriting things in Web services or rewriting things based on Web services, we focus on taking applications that our customers have and the infrastructure that we provide and putting in the hooks for people to be able to expose different functionalities and data as Web services.

Are you finding it necessary to make choices between different approaches, such as the Java platform versus the .Net platform?

Farrell: We do have to give consideration to the different run-times, but, in general, one of Oracles strengths is the integration and the different flavors of data and information that we actually work with. So, whether its a .Net Web service or a .Net architecture that theyre building on or Oracle J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition], the database is there to support it. Obviously, were not a .Net application server but a J2EE application server, but we can consume and talk with and orchestrate with .Net Web services, and all the data can be stored in an Oracle database.

IBM has a really heterogeneous lineup of server platforms, in terms of different technologies at the core of the server aimed at different tiers of the enterprise. Are you finding Web services an effective way to present that as more of a unified offering to your customers?

Norsworthy: Certainly, IBM has a long history of delivering heterogeneous solutions, and we do that not because we decided to but because its what our customers want. So, Web services is a great enabler for our customers, who, as you point out, have a lot of diverse systems, both hardware and software, to enable them to speed their ability to integrate across those systems.