Practical Web services rule the real world
Imagine globally, integrate locally.
Doug Ring, vice president of eBusiness technology at Atlanta-based Geac
Enterprise Solutions, sees a future for global Web services where mobile devices
link to a variety of applications as part of as-yet-unimagined business
But that's in the future.
Right now, as he talks to the customers for his company's ERP financial and
human resources products, the focus in a conservative economic climate is on
nitty-gritty business chores.
As he goes to customer sites in a Web services education capacity, Ring is
not currently focused out how executive might someday trade Chinese rice futures
using interactive Microsoft wristwatches.
''We educate them on how you can close their books faster,'' he said, ''how they
can get inventory in sync quicker.''
Real-world discussion of Web services concentrates on reducing latency in
existing business processes by using XML technology to ''reduce the level of
swivel chair integration in the process,'' Ring explained. That includes such
mundane applications as using Web services for employee expense reporting.
''You could have a travel and expense application generate a general ledger
entry,'' he said. ''You shouldn't have to wait for that transaction to be
processed at some later point in time and batched up. That transaction should be
able to be sent as a Web service directly into the mainframe application. So you
end up with all your GL posting done that much quicker.''
Ring is on the bandwagon with industry colleagues who see Web services for
mainframe integration as the so-called killer app. He said that is because the
customers he meets with show little inclination to replace existing financial
and HR systems.
''People are going to be hesitant to do huge system implementations and
replace back-office financial and HR,'' he said. ''There's not a compelling need.
Once they have that infrastructure in place, what they want to be able to do is
expose functions as Web services. We have lots of customers running mainframe
applications. By us wrapping them in Web services, they continue to derive value
out of them without having to even think about replacing them.''
The more global applications of Web services may eventually create exciting
new business models, Ring said, but that's ''down the pike.''
For more information on Geac Enterprise Solutions, a division of Geac
Computer Corp. Ltd., Markham, Ontario, click on http://www.geac.com/Americas.
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.