Startup targets mainstream Web services

Startup CapeClear Software Ltd. is entering the Web services fray with a new twist on the discussion of next-generation software development: Businesses do not need to employ highly skilled, highly paid developers to create new applications.

Dubbing itself as a Web services platform provider, Cape Clear on Thursday is releasing the second version of its CapeConnect server, a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application server that wraps back-end applications with XML interfaces, notably SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), allowing components and data to be exposed as Web services.

CapeConnect points to back end applications written in Java, CORBA, or Microsoft Corp. .NET standards and provides run-time services, such as security and logging. Developers customize existing components using scripting languages and XML toolkits.

The company, which has dual headquarters in Walnut Creek, Calif., and Dublin, Ireland, also is working on a development environment, dubbed Crusader, that will provide more graphical tools. Cape Clear will demonstrate the environment at the upcoming JavaOne conference in San Francisco in June, company officials said.

"SOAP has the characteristics of a disruptive technology in that it takes the tried and true procedures in IT practices, such as remote procedure call and messaging, and makes them more accessible," said Cape Clear Executive Chairman Annrai O'Toole.

Financial services provider eFunds has tapped CapeConnect to expose its existing back-end applications in XML and pave the way for Web services. The company looks forward to the day when it will be able to shop the open market for third-party specialized Web services and tie them into eFunds' own Web services, according to Joe Williams, the company's product manager for eBusiness in Runcorn, United Kingdom.

For now, CapeConnect takes eFunds' existing applications more accessible to its Web developers, who typically are not skilled in development languages such as Java.

"It allows you to separate the presentation and allows the Web developer to do what [they are] good at, which is design screens," Williams said. "[Designers] work with an application that's been engineered in the background."

CapeConnect is available now and costs US$20,000 per CPU.

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