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Web services, SOA ready for next step

If the first step in Web services evolution was just getting one up and running, the next step would appear to be figuring out how to maintain, update and manage the XML standards-based technology.

Brent Carlson, vice president of technology at LogicLibrary Inc. (www.logiclibrary.com), a Pittsburgh-based maker of asset management tools, is seeing "a lot of activity in Web services." Even more significantly in his opinion, he is seeing LogicLibrary customers making use of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) where Web services is one, but not the only, component.

Carlson told XML Report that he is seeing implementations where SOA "supports an infrastructure that can consume Web services as well as services hosted through other technologies -- asynchronous messaging for example."

But once an enterprise moves into the SOA world, Carlson finds that management is the next issue the IT group faces.

"Many of our customers are pushing forward with that sort of initiative, and one of the biggest issues with that sort of initiative is appropriate governance, appropriate abstractions of the existing capabilities in the legacy systems," he explained, "so you're not just re-inventing the wheel or adding another layer of technology on top of what you already have, but in fact writing value-add through the services you're building out."

Carlson pointed to Chicago-based CNA Financial Corp., a LogicLibrary customer that is using the firm's Logidex management tool, as an example of how companies are beginning to tackle management issues relating to Web services and SOA.

"CNA has done some extensive work in defining a Web services deployment process that involves Logidex," he said. "It uses Logidex to document the Web services requirements early on from the business point of view, and to then track the Web service as it goes through definition, development, testing and deployment."

This allows CNA to track the development life cycle, as well as usage once the Web service is available, and to then "do some effective change management in a proactive way," Carlson said.

Tracking usage of the Web services allows IT to notify and involve the consumers of a service in updates, he added.

Carlson outlined a typical scenario using his tool in this example: "Version one of the Web service has been published out. Six months from now we want to publish out Version two. I can initiate that activity and inform all of the current consumers of that Web service that Version two is coming. We're essentially making a call for requirements: 'Please provide your input.' They can do that within the context of the Logidex discussion forum, which is right in the product. So we support that sort of proactive Web service consumption and progressive implementation going forward."

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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