Interaction the killer app for Web services

Web services needs a ''killer app'' to move beyond internal integration, argues Nelson Carbonell.

''Right now,'' he said, ''you have Web services and you have companies that are providing Web services. You read about them and technical people are excited about them, but the missing element is what do you do with these Web services? We think interaction is the killer app for Web services.''

Carbonell, president and CEO of Cysive Inc., Reston, Va., which unveiled its new interactive server technology at Internet World in New York this week, said it is time for Internet transaction applications to move beyond selling t-shirts.

''I always say that the Internet looks like it was designed for the buy-a-t-shirt transaction,'' he said. ''It doesn't do very well for the get-a-mortgage transaction. Something that takes longer than 30 seconds to do kind of falls apart.''

What is needed, in Carbonell's view, are Web services interaction applications that can handle transactions that may take hours, days, weeks or even a month. An interaction tier links Web services into a single application for end users working from a variety of interfaces, he explained, on devices ranging from a PC or PDA to a home telephone. In addition, he said, Cysive provides patented ''follow-on'' technology so that if in the midst of a lengthy banking transaction users move from pressing buttons on a telephone to logging in with a PC Web browser, they don't have to start over.

''You reach a point where the phone is not going to be a very good user interface,'' Carbonell explained. ''What we allow you to do is log on through a browser and pick up where they left off. So it follows you from one channel to another because as far as the interaction tier is concerned, that's just one transaction going on. The fact that you started with voice and then went another way, that's your choice.''

Carbonell, who lists First Union, Fleet and Chase among his company's banking customers, said the interaction server allows Web services applications to operate the way the 'real world' works.

''We've taken the interaction tier and we're solving the basic problem, which is that I have applications that have to go out and be able to talk to 'n' number of user environments, whether that be devices or through channels like e-mail,'' he said. ''This interaction tier will allow us to do things that are in line with how things work in the real world.''

As an example, he said Cysive technology is being employed by the medical services branch of Philips Electronics to allow nurses, hospital staff, technicians and patients to interact with home heart monitors and the back-office systems that support them. A technician servicing the monitor, he noted, may use a handheld device in the field and then complete a service report from a PC in the office. Meanwhile, patients, who may not be computer literate, can use a home telephone to interact with the monitor and the support system, Carbonell explained.

He said this is how the interactive server ''knits the devices and channels into a single fabric in which you interact with the user.'' In his view, this is the future of Web services.

''Our view is that interaction is enabled by Web services,'' he said, ''and it's the type of application that will make people go do Web services instead of just talk about it.''

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About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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