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Web services can democratize EAI

[MARCH 15, 2002] - In the next five years, Web services will democratize enterprise application integration, predicts Annrai O'Toole, chief executive officer at Cape Clear Software, Campbell, Calif.

Noting that EAI projects have traditionally required developers with highly specialized skills, O'Toole believes Web services based on the increasingly pervasive XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI standards, will put integration into the hands of departmental end users.

Describing traditional EAI, he said, "It's kind of been this black art, a thing practiced by the very few and costing lots of money. And I think that's going to change pretty radically."

O'Toole, who co-founded Cape Clear in November 2000, envisions a not-to-distant future when power users in departments such as accounting will integrate payables and receivables applications with CRM software running on the corporate Web site by employing tools that will be as easy to use as Microsoft's Visual Basic.

The wide vendor support of XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI is creating a historical turning point in integration, O'Toole said.

"With the Web services standards, the analogy I use is that the Genie has been let out of the bottle," O'Toole explained. "Since these standards have been unleashed on the world, they've been adopted by everybody. There's no putting them back in the bottle. These standards are becoming part of the fabric of the Internet. And that's having a profound impact on integration because, for the first time ever, we have a common set of standards for people to exchange information among diverse systems, supported by a whole variety of vendors."

O'Toole, who earlier founded Iona Technologies, made his predictions as his latest company unveiled two new products designed to facilitate the democratization of integration. CapeStudio 3.0 is an integrated Web services development environment, while CapeConnect 3.5 is the company's Web services-based application integration platform.

Using these products, O'Toole said his company's own controller, whose proficiency was with Microsoft Excel, was able to integrate the CRM and financial applications Cape Clear uses for its own business. "We didn't need to hire an integration expert," O'Toole said. "That's the real power of the [Web services-based] system -- providing power to the ultimate end users."

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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