Next-Gen Web Services: Asynchronous services preached

Asynchronous Web services, which would support extended transactions that take place over days or months, is a critical need for the success of Web services, said an official of Web services software company Sonic Software at the InfoWorld Next-Generation Web Services II: The Applications conference here Thursday.

Sonic's Dave Chappell, vice president and chief technology evangelist at the company, stressed a need for asynchronous technology to make Web services successful. He stressed this technology as an alternative to remote procedure call-based Web services.

"In order for Web services to take root and prosper, what's really needed is an architecture that supports the notion of a constellation of hubs," to integrate with trading partners and integrate across the enterprise, Chappell said. "Asynchronous Web services are a must for that kind of architecture," he stressed.

"Many people have described 2002 as the year of discovery for Web services, and are predicting that wide-scale adoption and real business benefits will follow in 2003 and beyond that. That's only going to be the case if we make the proper choices," Chappell said.

Following Chappell's speech, he participated on an industry panel that debated the issue of asynchronous Web services.

Panelist John McDowall, vice president of engineering at Grand Central, said Web services need to be loosely coupled. However, "You don't want to have to go back and rebuild the entire architecture," he said.

Another panelist, Robert Marcus, CTO at Emerging Technology Strategies, said the industry lacks a standard for asynchronous messaging.

"One of the shocking things for our industry is there's no standard for reliable, asynchronous messaging, said.

Marcus also said there is an opportunity for the use of business process templates for specific vertical industries in conducting transactions.

Panelist Bruce Brown, CTO and chief scientist at NxLight, argued for a re-engineering of business processes. He cited one client that required 154 steps to do a single process. "We were able to eliminate 92 of them," said Brown.

Web services faces cultural obstacles in enterprises, Brown said, specifically citing older insurance companies as an example.

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