IBM moves to extend Web services

IBM is working on a project to move Web services from its current status of integration technology to the world of ''dynamic e-business,'' according to Stefan Van Overtveldt, director WebSphere technical marketing.

IBM's Allegro Framework, currently in early Beta but scheduled for release in 2003, will provide mechanisms, including metering and billing, so businesses can sell and subscribe to Web services, Van Overtveldt told XML Report.

''We're moving very aggressively to take Web services out of the technology infrastructure space and bring it into the business space with Web technologies like Allegro, which basically gives Web services provisioning capabilities and allows you to manage Web services from a business relationship aspect,'' he said.

Van Overtveldt stressed that Allegro is currently an IBM project and not yet a product; when it is released, it will run on top of WebSphere Application Server Version 5, slated to ship next month.

However, he said, some of the Allegro code is currently available on the IBM Alpha Works Web site. ''We're evaluating it with some early Beta adopters who are putting it into production as we speak,'' he said.

The Allegro Framework is being designed to provide an infrastructure to allow business to find and link to Web services, he explained. It would also give Web services providers the management system to negotiate contracts for the service, set security, and do metering and billing of service users, he added.

''Everybody's been talking about Web services, but at the end of the day Allegro will provide for what we at one point called 'dynamic e-business,''' Van Overtveldt said. ''For example, as a small company I'm going to focus on my core competencies. I'm going to get all of the additional capabilities across these applications, and I'm going to acquire those as services over the Internet. Or, if I have a core competency, I'm an HR management firm, and I manage 401K plans, for example, I'm going to expose this service as a Web service and all these companies will be able to make use of it.''

He said that while HR and payroll firms already provide Web services for 401K management, it is currently done only with established business partners and not as a Web service that a company could find in a UDDI registry and link into.

''With this technology [Allegro], they can literally go out and, in a secure fashion, allow other people to discover what their services are and have enterprises -- that are not their customers -- automatically link their HR applications to a [payroll services firm's] 401K application while fully doing management of the accesses, user IDs, monitoring, metering, logging and billing,'' he said.

Van Overtveldt said the Allegro Framework is made up of J2EE assets, so EJBs can be exposed as Web services. This will allow developers to pick and chose Allegro components to deploy in a specific application, he added.

Allegro will start out as a separate product running on WebSphere application server, but Van Overtveldt said it is possible IBM will eventually fold some or all of Allegro's components into a future release of WebSphere.

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About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.