Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Web Services: XML's Killer App

Web Services: XML's Killer App

My hype meter has been revved up lately, and what has pegged it is Web services. Who is hyping up Web services? Hmm...Microsoft, Sun, IBM, HP, BEA, SilverStream, Ariba, BowStreet, webMethods...my aunt Judy. I'm expecting to see this e-mail soon: "Quit your job and make $100,000 a year writing Web services in this groundbreaking business opportunity." Oh...that one might be true <G>.

Okay, so what's behind all this hype? Is all this real?

My take: absolutely real - or at least it will be very soon. This is my fourth "sea change" in software development. I can recognize a good thing when I see it.

In the '80s, the PC computing revolution took off. Snicker, snicker, PCs will never be serious. This revolution networked individual PCs but didn't change how corporate IT was implemented. That evolved from file system-based databases (dBase anyone?) to client/server applications using relational databases - that did change how IT was implemented. Snicker, snicker, client/server is for departmental apps. The Internet revolution has networked practically every system in the world and has led to some changes in corporate IT. Snicker, snicker, great for brochureware and shopping. We're now evolving to allowing applications to be easily built through networked businesses. Do I hear a snicker from the back row?

Web services is a subset of a service-oriented architecture. Each piece of business functionality is encapsulated into some sort of object/component that is then made available as a stand-alone service. Pretty basic stuff, really. What turns a service into a Web service is that it uses XML-in and XML-out for parameter and return value passing and that the service is accessible through a standard wrapper. It also has some easy-to-use protocol such as HTTP or SMTP. So you send XML to a URL. Magic happens. XML gets returned. Pretty simple.

What differentiates this from a servlet wrapper to a session bean? The servlet parses the XML, calls the bean, gets return data, remarshals the return XML, and sends the string back. Well, at the core, not much. However, a proper Web service has a SOAP wrapper along with a description written in WSDL. If the service is public, it will be registered with some registry, most likely using UDDI. The registry might be private to your organization, public to the world, or available in an industry-specific registry. The services you create will be made available to others who need them.

The cool thing about having a standard such as SOAP and WSDL that supersedes any specific technology standard (EJB, DCOM) is that an application can be built without regard to the underlying technology implementation. Service-based architectures allow you to separate the business use of a function from its actual technical implementation. Creating a business process that includes DCOM, EJB, CICS, and AS/400 functionality becomes a snap if each function is packaged as a Web service.

This alone is useful, but if you're a pure-Java shop, what's the real benefit? You can wrapper all of your functionality with EJBs and just call them. Of course, we know things aren't that simple because of the proliferation of technology in many companies. But let's take this to the next level: assume each business process you want to call exists in different businesses. This means you're building an application that spans your internal systems and interacts with your business partners.

As a developer, you'd look up the various services in the appropriate registries. From the registry you'll get a location and documentation you need to call the service. (A phone call might still be required for authorization, etc. Don't be fooled into thinking everyone will just use complex services without humans getting involved.) Your application would call each service (remember, a service is basically a URL with XML-in and XML-out). Your job is to integrate the pieces and spindle, fold, and mutilate the XML passed between the services. You're creating workflow and processing rules - a business process. Odds are you'll then publish the new object you've created as its own service. This isn't too different from normal OO except services are much more coarse-grained and don't require the same language to interoperate.

Service-oriented architectures and Web services look to fulfill the promise of application assembly. Discrete business functionality deployed as services is assembled into applications. To me this implies heavier reliance on workflow, rules engines, and messaging systems such as JMS. If we're manipulating XML at each step of the process, then a higher-level, more productive way of building applications can be achieved. However, at the core, each service still has to be written, and "real" work must be accomplished. This is where J2EE comes in and why I think J2EE is the perfect platform for a robust Web services architecture.

So keep your eyes open. Begin reading about Web services. It is the next big thing and it's already happening. It's a steamroller that will change how we write software. But at the core it's not a revolution - it's an evolution. And, luckily, J2EE puts us in the perfect position to take advantage of it.

More Stories By Steve Benfield

Steve Benfield is CTO of Agentis Software. A technology marketeer and strategist with 20 years of software entreprenuerism experience, he is both a gifted writer and a technical visionary, a combination of qualities that made him the perfect choice of Editor-in-Chief for SYS-CON Media's inaugural publication 12 years ago, PowerBuilder Developer's Journal. Steve's proven ability to determine marketing and technology strategies that align with market needs led to successful stints at SilverStream, where he started as technology evangelist and ended as CTO, and at ClearNova where he was CTO.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "IoT Now" was named media sponsor of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. IoT Now explores the evolving opportunities and challenges facing CSPs, and it passes on some lessons learned from those who have taken the first steps in next-gen IoT services.
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...