IBM fuels Web services push

Trying to feed its momentum in the Web services market, IBM on Monday announced it is expanding the number of technical centers dedicated to helping corporate users create Web services as well as identify solutions that can solve individual problems.

The company also announced it now has in place more than 1,000 software engineers dedicated to applying Web services standards across the breadth of the company's server-based applications, with a particular focus on WebSphere.

The design centers, located in Dallas, Singapore and Paris, typically work with several hundred of the company's larger corporate accounts to create customized but integrated solutions, according to IBM officials. Big Blue's Integrated Industry Solutions include a solution design and prototype that takes advantage of Web services.

Branch Transformation in Banking and Model for e-Government Transformation in Government are two of the company's most recent examples of Web services-enabled frameworks aimed at specific vertical industries.

The company also announced the number of developers working on Web services applications through its SpeedStart for Developers program has surpassed 40,000. Company officials estimate that these efforts will result in more than 1,200 Web services that will be available through IBM's DeveloperWorks Web site.

"We believe Web services has moved beyond the hype and tire kicking stages and into live production at thousands of customers' locations," said Michael Liebow, vice president of Web services at IBM Global Services. "The necessary standards are in place and IBM is now getting down to the hard work of helping customers leverage Web services to transform their businesses."

Offering proof of user commitment to Web services-based initiatives, IBM officials said Visa's latest project, called Resolve Online, makes it possible for banks to resolve charge backs over the Internet. This results in an improved and markedly faster dispute-resolution cycle over its network, which has 21,000 members and 396 million cardholders worldwide.

"The initial value of Web services is improved information flow. The bigger-picture benefit is that Web services is changing the way Inovant does business and the way it exchanges information with its customers," said Sara Garrison, senior vice president at Visa technology company Inovant.

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