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Horseless Web services

Web services and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) are in the "horseless carriage phase" of technology utilization, according to Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst, ZapThink, LLC, the Waltham, Mass.-based XML analyst group.

This is where the new technology, as happened with the first motorcars, is treated as if it were the same as the old technology, the horse-drawn carriage, the analyst explained in a new report on "Service-Oriented Process."

"The traditional mindset that needs changing is the view that Web Services are an extension of the component object model," Schmelzer said in the report. "To many developers, Web Services are simply 'another interface to a compiled object.' As a result, they apply their traditional component object design methods, deployment technologies, scalability and reliability approaches, and even terminology. The result: point-to-point implementations of Web Services that are every bit as brittle, tightly coupled, synchronous, and fine-grained as their object-oriented predecessors."

What is needed, the analyst argues, is a new way of thinking about Web services not as one shot point-to-point integration technology, but as part of a Service-Oriented Process model.

"Instead of thinking of Web services as a collection of interfaces to software functionality that must somehow be made to connect to other such interfaces, enterprises should approach Web services as enabling a fundamentally process-driven architecture that leverages distributed processes in addition to distributed services," Schmelzer writes.

In this view, individual Web services will become parts of a larger business process that will be described in WSDL and interact via SOAP. This Service-Oriented Process view of Web services will reduce the need for IT middleware investments, ZapThink predicts, as each application in the process will be responsible for providing the integration required.

Further information on Schmelzer's 96-page report, "Service-Oriented Process: Meeting the Requirements of Business Agility with SOA-based Process," is available at http://www.zapthink.com/report.html?id=ZTR-WS108.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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