At XML Web Services One: Glass sees 'Web Services Fabric'

[MARCH 11, 2003/ADT'S PROGRAMMERS REPORT] - [March 5, 2003 – Santa Clara, Calif.] - They say “Location, location, location” is the key to the restaurant business; it is also usually key for IT, which populates servers with business and other logic throughout organizations. The primacy of location may not continue, however, technologist Graham Glass told a keynote audience yesterday at the XML Web Services One conference here.

In Web services and other emerging varieties of technologies, the idea of “location” will lose some of its eminence, said Glass, chairman and chief architect at The Mind Electric (TME) in Dallas. Glass described a “Web Services Fabric” that is a combination of Grid computing, peer-to-peer (P2P) networking and XML-based Web services as an emerging architecture worth some attention.

Glass forecast that, in the hands of developers, this combination of percolating technologies could have a wide impact. A first impact may be a rethinking of application servers.

“These days,” said Glass, “app servers have everything you need, and people are ready to sell everyone an app server. Every project has the responsibility of provisioning, maintaining and monitoring these servers.” That follow-on work can be an unwelcome chore for developers and could be overkill. Full-fledged servers may give way to services-on-demand, Glass indicated.

The trend toward clusters or server farms is setting the stage for Grid computing and, in turn, the Web Services Fabric, he said. This has economic benefits. In any given server, only 30% of CPU cycle time is used at any time, Glass estimated.

Development teams will build and prototype on app servers, but then hand off their work to grids of servers. “Rather than every project having its own app server, [the work] will be given to a server farm, where it is managed by departments that are especially knowledgeable” in monitoring and such, he told the audience.

Sharing of CPU cycles can start with projects, and then move to wider inter-company efforts. “I think it’s predictable,” said Glass.

Glass has long been close to “edge technologies.” At The Mind Electric, he and his associates have released a stream of enabling tools, components and frameworks for Web services, SOAP, XML and other computing architectures.

Prior to founding TME, Graham was CTO and co-founder of ObjectSpace, where he developed CORBA-related Voyager and JGL product lines. He is the author of  Web Services: Building Blocks for Distributed Systems from Prentice-Hall.

To succeed, said Glass, the Web Services Fabric would take the best elements of Web services, P2P and Grid computing. These elements include interoperability and support for introspection (from Web services), decentralization and scalability (from P2P), plus on-demand computing and simplified end-points (from Grid computing).

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.


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