BEA, Cape Clear tout service-oriented architectures

BEA Systems Inc. and Cape Clear Software Inc. are readying initiatives to boost SOAs (service-oriented architectures).

With its "Project Sierra" strategy, BEA is mapping out plans to increase support of SOAs. "It's our long-term, three- to five-year technical vision for our product line and how customers can leverage that product line to build what we think of as the service-driven enterprise," Cornelius Willis, vice president of developer marketing at BEA, said in an interview on Monday.

An ESB (enterprise service bus) for funneling services to different systems is being considered as part of the plan, according to Willis. "That kind of functionality is certainly part of (our) thinking," Willis said.

An SOA is being defined by BEA as a framework for creating and reusing services. It features asynchronous, loosely coupled communications and business tools to compose services into an application along with a security framework. Existing technology investments can be encapsulated as reusable services.

The company is focusing on a three-layer structure for SOAs, featuring business design, plumbing and application layers. The business design layer involves enabling customers to redesign organizations to be as responsive as their IT infrastructure.

"If you build out your infrastructure as a collection of reusable services, that makes your IT infrastructure very responsive," Willis said.

"We're going to build some new technology on top of our service-oriented platform," which is the company's WebLogic Platform, Willis commented. New tools will be built making it easier for businesses to take advantage of SOAs, he said, adding that BEA with Project Sierra seeks to make its tools more accessible for business analysts.

The strategy also involves encouraging applications vendors, such as ERP system makers, to create reusable components that can plug into BEA's SOA. BEA currently supports component, or control-based, functionality through the use of Web services, but the plan is to boost use of components, Willis explained. BEA also plans to develop a reference implementation for an SOA.

Cape Clear Software on Tuesday will edge forward its development strategy for SOAs, unwrapping its SOA Editor that reportedly makes it easier to cobble together Web services.

The product, which has a new graphical environment, features a set of tools for building a variety of services including automated wizards for routine development tasks, as well as tools for testing code and supporting XML-based schemas.

"In talking to developers, the problem they face right now is that a lot of people talk about SOAs but aren't doing a lot to support the creation of Web services. But if you want to build software services, you don't start with the programming language, but rather with the definition of what the service is and does," said John McGuire, Cape Clear's CTO.

The development tool is integrated with the company's existing commercial Business Integration Suite, sometimes referred to by company officials as an ESB, which is currently positioned as a platform for integrating both applications and data.

Cape Clear officials view SOAs as providing a standardized way of building software services that can be accessed, shared, and reused across the breadth of a network, they said. With the starting point in developing SOA services typically being the use of the WSDL, they said, one advantage the SOA Editor has is its capacity to simplify the creation and editing of WSDL.

The product provides developers with a graphical tool that promotes best practice in the creation of an SOA. It enables developers to define their services using WSDL. Once the service is defined, it can be mapped to various applications and technological resources.

The tool along with the graphical environment encourages best practices in creating Web services, officials contend, that piece together an SOA. It can help developers define services using WSDL and then map that service to various applications and other technological resources.

At the center of the product's capabilities is its full support of XML Schema. Company officials said the tool has been tested against most of the leading industry schema including ACORD, Parlay, and SWIFT. In addition to its support of WSDL 1.1, the product also works with the latest manifestation of SOAP.

The SOA Editor will be available for download from http://www.capeclear.com/integration/soa.

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