Welcome!

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

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

The Role of Web Services in Enterprise Application Architecture

The Role of Web Services in Enterprise Application Architecture

Web services play an important role in building enterprise application architectures. These architectures, by nature, provide a blueprint describing software structure. This blueprint allows enterprise application architecture to be the confluence of business and technology, supporting business requirements and providing technology enablers.

For enterprise application architecture to accomplish this task, Web services will play a critical role. In this article, I will discuss the vision for Web services within complex corporations, how it compares and fits versus EAI, and how to begin implementing Web services within a corporation.

Background
In order to understand the role of Web services in enterprise application architecture, the architecture must be fully understood. Enterprise application architecture is defined as "the structure of components, their interrelationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time." With today's business requirement of positive return on investment (ROI), application architects must focus on the business application portfolio to show direct business value. Redundant databases and silo applications produce operational surplus, negatively affecting the bottom line. This is not tolerated in today's business climate. In short, information must be accessed in an easy, comprehensive manner. Thus, enterprise application architecture needs to set enterprise-level objectives for:

  • Consistency, integration, interoperability, and security
  • Reuse across applications
  • Flexibility to change applications
With these objectives, enterprise application architecture can drive high-quality systems - "better, faster, cheaper" - to achieve what every business desires:
  • Timely access to data and reports whenever and wherever needed
  • Flexible, adaptable systems that respond to rapidly changing business conditions
  • Accurate and consistent data throughout every department
  • Seamless integration and data sharing across the enterprise
  • Dependable security and reliability
  • Reasonable and affordable cost
How will enterprise application architecture achieve this? Enter Web services.

Web Services and the Enterprise Application Architecture Evolution
Through Web services, enterprise application architecture has evolved from a component-based architecture to a services-based architecture. Both component and service architectures rely on the same basic concept of reuse. However, a services-based architecture takes a component-based architecture and adds a programming model on top of it. That programming model is Web services.

Web services allow components to be published, discovered, and invoked over the network using standard Internet protocols (primarily HTTP(S) or SMTP). This new services-based architecture hides the underlying technology of a component, allowing an application to use the service without having to understand the underlying technology. An application need only know what a service does, how to use it, and where to find it. Additionally, the loose coupling of Web services allows applications that rely on that service to continue to run regardless of implementation changes. These two key pieces of services-based architecture - technology independence and loose coupling - fulfill today's business needs where yesterday's component architectures failed.

Fulfilling Today's Business Needs
There's certainly been plenty of buzz surrounding Web services technology, with its promises to reduce integration costs, change applications quickly, and exploit software resources across business units. But how do Web services bring value to business today?

Before you can understand how Web services can be applied in the enterprise, you must understand how large enterprises are organized. Large Fortune 500 enterprises are typically divided into both lines and sublines of business. These "companies within a company within a company" can consist of hundreds of employees with distinct business objectives and supporting applications. A look at today's entertainment conglomerates provides a good example. Sony, Vivendi, News Corporation, and Viacom are broken down into several lines of business, such as electronics, music, entertainment, and online. From here, each line of business is typically broken down into business units - for example, entertainment may be divided into home entertainment, television, and motion pictures. These corporate structures have caused a number of IT problems. The different business initiatives have created silo applications and redundant databases, resulting in poor information velocity and high costs. Web services help solve these problems through:

  • Application infrastructure services: Web services technologies can be used to deliver behind-the-scenes functionality such as user authentication, divisional content sharing, and common product sharing.
  • Enterprise application integration "Light": Web services technologies can solve the complex integration challenges of linking applications across business units within an enterprise, at a cost that can be justified.

    Application Infrastructure Services
    Using Web services, cross-divisional sharing of application infrastructure services eliminates the need for the "big bang" approach that has plagued corporate-wide initiatives such as single sign-on and enterprise-wide portals. Instead, instant efficiencies can be realized through the development of Web services from existing business components. Developers can provide centralized business components with the simplicity and ubiquity of XML over HTTP.

    Web services are ideal for building reusable business components when data and business rules need to be reused between two or more applications. These components can be grouped together to form a business process or stand alone. Once these Web services have been developed, they can be registered in a local UDDI, allowing other divisions to tap into them - no all-encompassing, enterprise-wide effort is needed.

    Product rights lookup is a perfect example of an application infrastructure service that can be developed as a reusable business component. Rights are typically addressed on an application-by-application basis rather than an enterprise basis. These rights are managed by different systems and can lead to inconsistent rights information, enough to make lawyers cringe. By developing and deploying a product rights lookup Web service, enterprises can make that information reusable by all applications requiring rights information.

    Enterprise Application Integration 'Light'
    Enterprise application integration (EAI) platforms are at the forefront of most enterprise application architecture concerns because EAI revolves around understanding information flow and efficiencies. Generally, most large companies looking at EAI solutions fall into three categories:

  • Companies who have purchased one or more EAI packages: But they may still be having trouble making sense of them.
  • Companies who realize their integration problem: Many point-to-point interfaces with very little overall understanding of their integration architecture. These enterprises are exploring ways to transform their integration problem to serve their business needs and produce a positive ROI.
  • Companies who have a particular project with a complex integration requirement: An example of such a project is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system replacement.

    Both Web services and EAI can provide solutions for these three categories of companies. The key question for corporations is which solution is better for what situation?

    Web services are ideal for EAI when a rapid, noncomplex integration solution is needed. Web services promote a peer-to-peer type of integration environment that is relatively low-cost to operate and still provides better federation than point-to-point integrations. On the flip side, existing EAI technologies use expensive and proprietary technology to conquer the 20% of projects that are very complex or high in volume. Existing EAI vendors best serve this need. The remaining 80% of integrations are ideal for Web services because Web services are low in cost, standards-based, easy to learn and use, and endorsed by the entire technology industry.

    In addition, combining Web services with other technologies such as portals - reusable user interface components - is another area in which enterprises should look to use Web services as an EAI solution. Because diversity is commonplace in corporate environments - it's not unusual to see two or more ERP systems, two or more CRM systems, and two or more portal systems - Web services can make these systems work together. The end result is a shortened development time frame and a more consistent, high-quality product.

    Implementing Web Services Within an Enterprise
    How should enterprises begin developing and deploying Web services? First, IT organizations need to immediately address two issues before 'Web services creep' gets out-of-hand, much like corporate Web sites in the mid-1990s:

    • Who governs Web services?
    • What framework controls should be put around the development and deployment of Web services?
    Governance of Web services: Enterprise Application Architecture
    Because any application developer can build a Web service relatively easily and cheaply, IT governance of Web services is an important issue and cannot be underestimated. Without the right IT governance, a web of applications producing and consuming Web services can exist before an IT executive even has Web services on his or her radar. So who will own the central registry of Web services, deciding where and when to produce and consume them? In addition, who will monitor these Web services to make sure they perform as advertised? Enter enterprise application architecture.

    Enterprise application architecture groups allow the federation of Web services through a centralized group. Since architects tend to also be the visionaries and most experienced technology people, they will be able to make the crucial decisions on when and when not to produce Web services for certain business processes. Furthermore, this will allow for creativity and experimentation with this new technology while keeping it under control. Finally, managing and monitoring centralized repositories of Web services makes sense for enterprise application architecture since the architects' primary responsibility is to unite business and technology to meet business needs.

    Web Services Framework: WebLogic Workshop and BEA Platform 7.0
    In a Web services world, corporations will continue to head towards the process of application assembly and away from application development. Application assembly involves the typical component architecture practices of reusing frameworks and shared components. With Web services, application assembly additionally involves the services architecture practice of consuming Web services. What tools are available for application assembly of both components and services today? Enter WebLogic Workshop.

    WebLogic Workshop provides a visual development environment that lets non-Java developers generate J2EE code simply by visually specifying business processes. Application developers can build applications by adding methods and controls, setting properties, and writing business logic using Java. To reduce tedious Web services work for Java and non-Java developers alike, Workshop also automatically generates WSDL contracts and all related XML code, including SOAP messages, UDDI registry entries, and schemas. Further, WebLogic Workshop validates the WSDL contract, reporting any violation. Loose coupling and both asynchronous and synchronous communications are fully supported.

    Java developers can create Workshop controls through Enterprise JavaBeans, direct database connections, or other methods. Additionally, any Web service can be converted automatically into a control on WebLogic Workshop's palette and be made available for reuse. This makes creation of Workshop controls ideal for hard-core Java developers who are focused on key system components rather than new application development.

    Finally, WebLogic Workshop provides its own runtime engine through BEA's WebLogic Platform 7.0. This allows for a single, easy-to-use, infrastructure platform to develop, deploy, and manage Web services, and eliminates the need to write the hundreds of lines of J2EE plumbing that it would take to run a Web service without the runtime framework.

    Despite its technical achievements, perhaps the most appealing aspect of Workshop for enterprises is its ability to separate the responsibilities of the enterprise developer and the application developer. The enterprise developer, who is part of the governing body of Web services, can concentrate on creating controls and the underlying frameworks, while the application developer can focus on assembling actual business applications. This separation of concerns works well in today's line-of-business organizational structures. Line-of-business developers can focus on their particular business applications while still plugging into the "enterprise plumbing" that is produced by the enterprise developers through Web services.

    Conclusion
    Web services are the future and if CIOs are unprepared, they're liable to face the same integration and silo application problems tomorrow that they have today, but with an additional amount of complexity through poorly managed Web services. However, CIOs who provide the proper governance through an enterprise-wide group such as enterprise application architecture and establish solid frameworks for Web services such as BEA Workshop and Platform 7.0 should find themselves in a position to drive significant cost savings through applications infrastructure services and application integration.

    Reference

  • IEEE: STD 610.12 (Hagle brief)
  • 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.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
    Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
    Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
    Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
    As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
    Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
    With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
    Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, will discuss how given the magnitude of today's applicati...
    Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
    Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
    In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...