Making Web services work

At his April 2002 Discussion Day, Dr. Ashish Deshpande discussed how Web services will change the face of integration and specifically business process integration.

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At his April 9 2002 Discussion Day, Dr. Ashish S. Deshpande, Founder and CTO of Metaserver discussed how Web services will change the face of integration and specifically business process integration.

ABSTRACT: What the Web did for interactions between business functions and their users, Web services will do for interactions between functions spread out across multiple businesses. Web services will enable organizations to automate these interactions between their business functions thereby reducing the cost of doing e-business and making the overall process much more efficient. It's Supply Chain Integration for the Internet age.

The critical enabling feature is a standardized model for communication between programs across the Internet. The communication model is built upon existing standards such as XML messaging (SOAP), Internet standard transport (HTTP, FTP, SMTP...) and emerging standards such as Web Services Description Language (WSDL), Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) and Web Services Flow Language (WSFL). Web services allow integration to occur at a higher level in the technology stack permitting a much looser coupling between business functions. This is ideal for connecting business functions across the Internet particularly across enterprises but also within the enterprise.

Web services are designed to expose and provide access to business functions. They are not designed for implementing those business functions. Web services complement the technologies used for implementing these business functions.

However, the reality and therefore challenge of creating Web services is that most enterprise data and business functionality resides in "legacy" systems. Organizations rely heavily on their mainframes, AS/400 systems, Oracle databases, and even on newer EJB or COM based systems. Further, an organization probably does not want to expose and provide access to its core operational systems. Rather, the organization probably wants to expose and provide access to its core business functions. For example, car rental companies are in the business of renting cars. They likely want to expose the process of renting a car, or checking on its status and not the inventory system or the order entry system that implements parts of those business functions. Insurance companies would like to expose the process of renewing an insurance policy or checking the status of a claim and not provide access to the legacy systems or databases that contain the required information.

A critical enabling technology for attaining this new horizon is business process integration (BPI). BPI enables organizations to automate, expose and provide access to the business processes that embody its business value. Using BPI, the car rental companies can automate the process of renting a car hiding the details of connecting to and extracting information from the various back-end systems involved in the process. Once the process is automated, it can be easily exposed as a Web service. The same is true for the insurance companies and the process of renewing an insurance policy. In fact, every organization that wants to participate in the world of Web services must first look inward and ensure that the core business processes that run the organization are as automated as possible and are ready to be exposed to the outside world in the form of Web services.

BIO for Dr. Ashish S. Deshpande, Founder and CTO of Metaserver:
Deshpande serves as founder and chief technology officer for Metaserver and is responsible for the company's technology vision and in directing Metaserver's product development plans. Deshpande designed the Metaserver technology, which provides e-businesses with a way to seamlessly integrate their back-end systems regardless of platform or language. It also allows back-end applications to talk directly with one another in a non-centralized manner for the first time.

Deshpande is a leading authority on the business process integration space and has more than 15 years experience with B2B technology, network computing, and distributed parallel processing. For his expertise in information technology, Connecticut Lieutenant Governor, M. Jodi Rell appointed Deshpande to the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology in January 2001.

Prior to joining Metaserver, Deshpande was a research scientist at SCA, where his work focused on high-performance distributed systems, with a concentration in component-based systems and network technologies. Deshpande earned a Ph.D in computer science from Yale University, a master's of science degree in computer science from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor of technology in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay.

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