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Web Services Edge 2002 East Keynote

Eric Newcomer, CTO, IONA, Cites Data Independence as Prime Benefit of Web Services

WSJ recently caught up with Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer of IONA, and spent a few moments discussing trends in the industry. A member of the XML Protocols and Web Services Architecture working groups at the W3C, Eric is a respected industry expert, and will be one of the featured Keynote speakers at the Web Services Edge 2002 East conference, June 24-27, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in NYC.

WSJ: Are Web services a reality in terms of delivering the ROI that technology investments have promised?

Newcomer: Web services represent a broad range of technologies and capabilities, some of which are already available and some of which are just starting to emerge. Therefore some of the ROI benefits are already available, while others will be delivered over time.

The investment in a basic Web services creation product such as IONA's XMLBus is very small - it's available for free evaluation, as are comparable toolkits from other vendors. But the return on XMLBus is very high, since it can successfully and easily bridge .NET, J2EE, and CORBA; interoperate with many other Web services products; import WSDL from other sources; generate WSDL from existing objects and classes; generate clients; and so forth.

Other products, such as application servers, integration brokers, and database management systems are becoming "Web service-enabled," which presents a more complicated ROI picture, since the value of the investment in these cases is more inherent in the existing product than in the Web services layer.

Web services products are delivering ROI today, but in as soon as two to three years, Web services will commoditize costly software products, and commoditize the skills of developers needed for enterprise integration projects.

WSJ: When do you think we will see serious Web services in place? In other words, will they be mainstream in a year, two, ten, etc.?

Newcomer: Web services are already serious technology for some applications, such as transmitting large amounts of data across the Internet, and are becoming mainstream very quickly for program-program interactions over HTTP. However, it will take two to three years, possibly even five years, before the technology matures to the extent that it can be considered a replacement for existing mission-critical technologies. It's a bit like the adoption curve of CORBA, which is now reaching mainstream after about a decade.

WSJ: Are there particular industries that are taking to Web services faster than others are?

Newcomer: The retail, telecommunications, and financial industries are taking to Web services quickly, specifically around the implementation of vertical standards for XML protocols and documents such as ebXML, RosettaNet, and UCCnet, which are supported in our Orbix E2A Collaborate. Orbix E2A Collaborate is a document-oriented integration broker that supports these vertical industry standards and features a business protocol framework that's easily extensible. Orbix E2A Collaborate also includes a suite of ERP, CRM, and technology adapters and a graphical business process engine for defining business collaboration flows. These flows can also be exposed using WSDL, so that Orbix E2A Collaborate can receive documents sent using Web services messaging. Orbix E2A Collaborate provides the enterprise quality of services toward which Web services are evolving.

WSJ: What is the single largest impediment to Web services besides lack of standardization?

Newcomer: Security. Whenever you open up access to programs over the Web, you open up the possibility of being exposed to malicious interactions, either from someone pretending to be a trusted source of information or from someone pretending to be authorized to access private data. IONA's Orbix E2A XMLBus and Collaborate offerings have a strong focus on industrial-strength security solutions for encryption and authentication for this reason.

WSJ: What do you see as the single largest benefit of Web services?

Newcomer: Web services provide data independence, and the capability to bridge disparate technologies. They have the potential to finally solve the enterprise integration problem using commodity software. Data from any source can be converted into XML; once in XML it can be transformed into multiple other XML forms, and converted from XML into any destination. Web services represent a set of conventions and standard mechanisms for achieving this.

See Eric Newcomer in person at Web Services Edge 2002 East, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, NYC, NY, on Wednesday, June 26. He'll give a keynote speech on Web Services: Integration Technology for the 21st Century, and will participate in the keynote panel " Immediate ROI with Web Services." Click here for more information http://www.sys-con.com/WebServicesEdge2002East/.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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