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Expert: Web services technology will end integration 'anarchy'

BEA chief architect and senior vice president Adam Bosworth told a crowd of attendees at the InfoWorld CTO Forum in Boston that the Web services of tomorrow will be the powder that helps ease the integration headaches of today.

BOSTON -- Speaking to a crowded room of top IT decision makers, BEA Systems Inc.'s chief architect sketched an integration model for a future in which the use of XML-based Web services technology becomes the de facto method of pulling together disparate applications.

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Addressing attendees at the InfoWorld CTO Forum last week, BEA senior vice president Adam Bosworth said Web services built around XML standards will serve as the "fabric" that helps users eliminate the complex systems integration efforts that have handcuffed them in the past.

"Web services will standardize the manner [in] which applications and businesses talk to each other," Bosworth said. "The Web wave has truly just begun and will take another 10 years to play out."

Reliance on legacy systems that have problems communicating and which were designed by developers who have long since retired remains a serious issue among users today, Bosworth said. He also said that more intelligent messaging technologies and service-oriented architectures built on standards such as XML would help bridge these gaps.

Beyond the current push to drive more rapid application development with smaller budgets and fewer developers, one of the biggest challenges in application integration is the dependence on a large number of different IT systems that cannot communicate, Bosworth said. Another potential roadblock is that mission-critical applications demand simultaneous integration of user interfaces, business processes and other data, which remains a nearly impossible task.

"What we need is a better programming model for message-driven environments," he said.

For its part, San Jose, Calif.-based BEA has developed a model wherein three different strategies aid in Web services architecture design and help ease application workloads:

  • Coarse-grained computing allows single round-trip database communication and transactions.
  • Loose coupling gives companies the ability to change or swap integrated applications without damaging one another.
  • Asynchrony enables delivery.

The ideal delivery device for these tactics can be found in messaging technology, Bosworth said. Later this year, BEA will release its WebLogic Platform 8.1, with a heavy emphasis placed on messaging management and message "brokering."

Bosworth said he firmly believes that, a few years down the road, the proliferation of Web services technology will create an environment in which applications can cohabitate more easily. He also said he thinks that the IT landscape will look like a completely different world for developers and systems integrators.

"Kids graduating from colleges a few years from now will look back at the way we've worked in the past and ask themselves how we survived in this state of anarchy," he said.

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