IBM expands portfolio of Web services tools

IBM Corp. has released several new tools for developers working on Web services applications, including version 3.0 of its Web Services Toolkit, a "starter's kit" package of software components.

IBM's research suggests that companies that are considering implementing Web services -- a phrase that covers a broad array of tools, data and applications accessible via the Web -- encounter "two major roadblocks": deciding how to profitably provision Web services and figuring out how to provide those services securely, according to Scott Cosby, IBM's manager for Web services marketing. IBM's newly released tools are designed to address security concerns and streamline the process of administrating a Web services hosting environment, he said.

IBM's updated Web Services Toolkit features a number of incremental upgrades. One new technology in the package is SoapConnect for Lotus, a software hook for connecting Web services to IBM's Lotus Domino and Notes programs. SoapConnect is a partial implementation of the SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), version 1.1 standard. IBM's Web Services Toolkit, initially released in July 2000, provides developers with tools including a run-time environment, sample programs, demonstrations and tutorials.

Now included in the Web Services Toolkit is IBM's new Web Services Hosting Technology, which is also available in a stand-alone tool package. Aimed at service providers, the Web Services Hosting Technology is intended to aid developers in implementing Web services provisioning and metering, and in handling tasks including user authentication and billing.

Another new IBM tool, Web Services Gateway, is a middleware component intended to provide security for Web services invocations between the Internet and corporate intranets. It's designed to help network administrators control and audit data access across firewalls, Cosby said.

The Web Services Toolkit 3.0, Web Services Hosting Technology and Web Services Gateway are available for free, 90-day trial download at IBM's alphaWorks Web site for developers, a forum the company uses for testing in-development technologies. Downloaded tools can be renewed for free every 90 days, Crosby said. Eventually, IBM plans to integrate the Web Services Hosting Technology and the Web Services Gateway into its WebSphere Commerce suite, he said.

IBM's alphaWorks Web site is at http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/.

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