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Interview with Jim Russell, Director of Emerging Technologies for IBM Websphere

  • By Michael Stevens
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Developer.com asked Michael Stevens to interview Jim Russell, Director of Emerging Technologies for IBM Websphere.

Jim, welcome to Developer.com. Thank you for letting me ask you a few questions on your group's work and other current developments at IBM.

Jim Russell
Thanks, I'm happy to have the opportunity.

Could you briefly explain service-oriented architecture? Is it all about Web services?

Jim Russell
Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Web services go hand in hand. SOA describes the general concept of architecting applications and solutions around coarse-grained, loosely-coupled components ("services"). This is a powerful concept, since the componentization allows for both newly created business logic and existing applications to coexist and cooperate as part of the overall solution, preserving existing investments. Loose coupling means the components can be flexibly reused and recombined to respond to changing requirements.

Web Services are a concrete example of the services-oriented architecture concept. Web services describe a set of standards for the description, connection, communication, and integration of services. The Web services standards are a critical part of making services-oriented architectures successful, because they provide the industry agreement necessary for the integration of function from multiple sources, and the security of investment in a services-oriented design. IBM has been driving Web Services standards based on our technology experience in what is necessary to build powerful, open, SOAs. We have built SOA capabilities into the Enterprise configuration of WebSphere Application Server Version 5, and they will spread throughout the WebSphere family of software.

Do you think that Web services will be adopted more for internal systems integration or for eBusiness applications?

Jim Russell
Both. Like the e-business revolution, I see the internal and external adoption building and driving each other. We initiated the standards work, and frankly much of the evangelism, by considering the problems external interoperability -- where you have multiple independent entities creating services that they want to be able to share and interoperate. This drives the standards and vision to address the most important elements of interoperability.

However, I see the first deployments of serious Web services architectures being within the enterprise as internal systems integration. The standards and vision enable the tools, but then the tools are also extremely useful for solving internal integration problems. Internal integration is a problem customers face today, and using Web services to move to a services-oriented environment is a natural approach to address it.

This in turn forms the foundation for external e-business, since once a service is componentized and described with Web services, it is a relatively simple step to offer that same service to external partners, suppliers, customers, etc. That's the benefit of the Web services standards.

Ultimately, I believe this will lead to a significant transformation in the way e-business applications are constructed or composed, with multiple entities able to cooperate and interoperate. I expect that in the next couple of years will see some novel and successful business models based on services. We're getting there in stages, but this technology is moving very quickly.

How critical are concerns such as security, metering and billing of Web services to the adoption of Web services on the Internet?

Jim Russell
As Web services evolve and grow in adoption, it is vital that we continue to "move up the stack" in ensuring that services can be secure, reliable, transactional, interoperable, and suitable for enterprise e-business. You can see this direction clearly in the evolution of the Web services standards, which have evolved from focusing on connection (WSDL, SOAP, XML), to embracing security (WS-Security, and the recently announced WS- Policy draft), transactions (WS-Transaction, WS-Coordination) and interoperability (WS-I.org). This is critical evolution to make sure that Web services will be "real" for e-business.

Metering and billing get at one of the business models for Web services, where the service is sold as a subscription or by usage. These will be an important part of an On Demand infrastructure for deploying Web services as a business. Ask me about Allegro later!

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This article was originally published on March 19, 2003

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