Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Andy Thurai, Pat Romanski, John Katrick

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

Collaboration and Web Services Orchestration

Collaboration and Web Services Orchestration

Collaborative commerce (c-commerce) is the name given to commercial relationships carried out over a collaborative framework to integrate enterprises' business processes, share customer relationships, and manage knowledge across enterprise boundaries. The ultimate aim of initiatives is to maximize return on intellectual capital investment, business agility, and the quality of the customer experience. C-commerce is far more crucial than basic B2B e-commerce, which is designed to construct a virtual link for a pre-defined community of trading partners to buy or sell goods and services. Even after the fall of the dot-com era, corporate strategists and venture capitalists are embracing c-commerce as the next generation of e-commerce and an evolution of the traditional supply chain process.

In Web services, c-commerce may have found an innovative way to redefine its business model. With this technology, c-commerce is given a solid platform to enable effortless and seamless integrations. Web services is going to reinvent c-commerce to offer new products, services, and multi-dimensional collaboration, bringing global enterprises a step closer to realizing the promise of increased velocity in supply chains and efficient interenterprise processes.

Lacking an open, reliable platform, traditional c-commerce vendors couldn't develop flexible, sharable, drag-and-drop modules among their products. Consequently, traditional c-commerce is a transaction-focused, one-dimensional application. The majority of applications reside in the direct or indirect procurement area. So far, the key factor behind most current exchanges is price. There is no opportunity to negotiate enhancements to products in order to have them match unique customer needs and requirements.

Web services-enabled c-commerce will, potentially, fully integrate the trading partner's intellectual library and the customer's demanding knowledge base to solve the above issues without human interaction. Web services orchestration is the infrastructure that assembles loosely coupled components and coordinates the multiple asynchronous conversations over coarse-grained communication protocols. C-commerce needs orchestration to deliver its value.

The first step of c-commerce is procurement. Our observation of this trend is based on the real practice of high-tech manufacturing, airlines, and the telecom industry.

Figure 1 details the purchase order flow process. The procurement diagram captures the interactive process between buyers and suppliers. The PO process statuses include PO create, PO change, PO cancellation,and PO fulfillment. The process is constrained as linear and synchronized by existing technology infrastructure.

 

Procurement Process Infrastructure
Most organizations use technology that is labor intensive and expensive. Typical mishaps include:

  • Nonstandard one-to-one point integration
  • A thick glue among suppliers and buyers
  • No separation between strategic "business critical" purchases and tactical "business support" purchases
  • Long latency between policy creation and process enforcement
  • Developers having to hard-code all business exceptions
  • Difficulty in scaling performance and functionality
  • Lost opportunities for both customers and vendors
Web services orchestration takes these challenges to help businesses achieve their ultimate goals:
  • Standards-based, multipoint, any-to-any integration
  • Up-to-date supplier performance metrics
  • Decision support that provides "business critical" information
  • Asynchronous business process
  • Elimination of errors and reconciliation costs
  • Enforcement of policy deployment
  • Ease of scaling and adapting functionality to new requirements
Benefits of Web Services Orchestration
Open Standards

Web services orchestration leverages your existing investments and skills in Java and J2EE. It's the platform that marshals conversation into SOAP, XML, and JMS messages so that the other side of the communication is independent of your implementation. The future procurement system will be presented as a Web service that can be integrated into any trading communities and partners.

State and Context Management
Purchase requests normally involve extensive negotiations, credit valuations, and a marketplace buying-power collaborative process. This entails an asynchronous conversation among communities. Web services orchestration will correlate these negotiations and provide trading partners with a set of actions.

Loosely Coupled Services
A marketplace can easily handle millions of dollars in transactions. Web services orchestration simplifies business acquisitions and business spin-offs for technology departments. A loosely coupled services architecture provides the flexibility for business modules to be plugged or unplugged without disrupting the normal operation of transacting business.

Parallel Processing
When a large purchase order is received, the marketplace will be intelligent enough to split these purchase items into different suppliers, depending on pricing, delivery location requirements, and contract obligations. Web services orchestration provides a parallel-processing platform that optimizes the execution of the overall transaction.

Exception Management
Web services orchestration can handle business exceptions, such as an unacknowledged purchase order - for example, a PO that has not been confirmed, rejected, or fulfilled after four days. Other examples may include a PO delivery date that is earlier than the PO receiving date or purchase items that have been ordered but are no longer available.

Event and Notifications
Web services orchestration can provide business notification if one of the suppliers has merged with another supplier. It can also provide notification if one supplier has outsourced their product to a third party and the customer has to change the PO headers. Event notifications are particularly useful while conducting long-lived asynchronous conversations with external service providers, where prompt handling of logic in response to received events is essential to the execution of the business transaction.

Scalability
Web services orchestration provides the flexibility to scale up the procurement system. The transaction volume of procurement can pick up based on marketing promotions, distributor incentives, and seasonal fluctuation to provide for adequate quality of service. In addition, the procurement system can scale up in functionality while keeping complexity growth at bay.

Business Transactions
Web services orchestration provides a compensation mechanism to undo certain steps in the transaction due to failures of interdependent activities.

Distributed Administration
Web services orchestration can provide a platform to handle multiple phases of purchase-order change. It's very common that purchase orders need to be changed partially or fully. An asynchronous platform that allows this flexibility so suppliers can consolidate the purchase order state is in great demand in the business process. Web services orchestration allows monitoring of purchase order status by all parties, such as suppliers, buyers, and distributors.

Business Visibility
Web services orchestration provides up-to-date supplier performance metrics, strategic outsourcing benchmarks, real-time customer satisfaction on the purchase order fulfillment rate, and elimination of errors and reconciliation costs.

Version Control
Web services orchestration can provide correlated version control on catalogs, contracts, and pricing promotions associated with the purchase order system. In addition, the system needs to allow for graceful upgrading of functionality and ensuring consistent behavior for users running the old version as well as those running the new version.

Audit Trailing
Web services orchestration can provide financial auditors with a complete history of the purchase order, including negotiation, request to purchase, and purchase order changes. It's also a digital backup for legal records of trades.

Conclusion
Web services orchestration is a core technology integration infrastructure for collaborative commerce. It gives c-commerce a chance to redefine every process of the business cycle: design, plan, source, execute, and fulfill. With Web services orchestration as an engine of integration, we can finally realize the value of c-commerce.

More Stories By John Fou

John Fou is co-founder of an application solution company focued on the telecom, financial
and supply chain area. Currently he is
authoring a book on "Web Services & Supply Chain" (Prentice Hall).

Comments (1) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
Jill Kay 07/17/02 05:41:00 PM EDT

I believe that the orchestration requirements described in this article are in fact implemented by Collaxa's Web Service Orchestration Server (WSOS) which was reviewed recently by InfoWorld. I've played with their system recently and am amazed by how intuitive and flexible it is. I would like to see it applied in more application areas.

Jill.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, discussed how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galera MyS...
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Kelly Looney, director of DevOps consulting for Skytap, showed how an incremental approach to introducing containers into complex, distributed applications results in modernization with less risk and more reward. He also shared the story of how Skytap used Docker to get out of the business of managing infrastructure, and into the business of delivering innovation and business value. Attendees learned how up-front planning allows for a clean sep...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
"I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Kin Lane recently wrote a couple of blogs about why copyrighting an API is not common. I couldn’t agree more that copyrighting APIs is uncommon. First of all, the API definition is just an interface (It is the implementation detail … Continue reading →
The United States spends around 17-18% of its GDP on healthcare every year. Translated into dollars, it is a mind-boggling $2.9 trillion. Unfortunately, that spending will grow at a faster rate now due to baby boomers becoming an aging population, and they are the largest demographic in the U.S. Unless the U.S. gets this spiraling healthcare spending under control, in a few short years we will be spending almost 25% of our entire GDP in healthcare trying to fix people’s failing health, instead o...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
"DivvyCloud as a company set out to help customers automate solutions to the most common cloud problems," noted Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...