Careers: Interviews
Widely respected international authority on Web Services strategy 

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, ISP, has an exclusive interview with the David A. Litwack, senior vice president of Web Application Development Products, responsible for the development and advancement of Novell’s secure Web services strategy.

Prior to Novell’s acquisition of the company in July 2002, David was president and CEO of SilverStream Software, a position he held since 1997. Previous roles also include executive vice president of Sybase Inc., and president of Powersoft Corporation.

David is widely respected for his development, IT, and management expertise and has served on the board of many companies. He holds a degree in mathematics from Brandeis and a Masters in computer science from Boston University.

Discussion:

Q: David, thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to do this interview on a topic so important to businesses—Web services. We will examine the specifics of Web Services, its impact on traditional business models, current trends in business models for Web Services, creating a successful long-term Web Services business model, and its impact on ROI. At the end of the interview, we will examine Novell’s specific solutions to address the areas covered.

 A: Thank you; it is pleasure to be talking with you and your readers.

 Q: Can you provide a history of IT, which resulted in the current demand for Web services? What were the issues at the different development stages?

 A: From an application development perspective there have been three long- lived trends in the past 40 years: central- or terminal-based computing, client / server, and the Internet. The applications currently in production running major business are a mix of these, each implemented in the technology that was appropriate at the time. With all of the advances in tools and programming languages there is still a large reliance on these older systems, including COBOL and Mainframes. Gartner estimates that 80% of critical business transactions, especially in industries such as financial services, are implemented this way.

In the 40+ years there have been many new technologies developed and adopted, often for solutions that were built or bought to solve specific business needs, and these were typically isolated from other core business systems. This trend resulted in the huge demand for data-warehouses in the 80s and in Enterprise Applications Integration (EAI) products and costly integration services in the 90s.

Web Services and Service Oriented Architecture embodies the ability to encapsulate all of these 40+ years of IT infrastructure and computing into re-usable pieces of business work. It provides the ability to access all of the “legacy” systems, whether they are mainframe, database, application packages or internet based and to repurpose these applications so they can be re-used. This is in an effort to create application “Lego-blocks” that can be snapped together quickly, easily and affordably. 

Q: What are Web services—define and describe Web services in detail? Please describe the different levels of implementation and the solutions they provide.

A: Web Services are a method of building applications with a Services Oriented Development Architecture (SODA). This entails using tools and techniques to build services that exploit two new technologies HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and eXtensible Markup Language (XML). HTTP is the communications protocol that was popularized by browsers and the World Wide Web, and XML is a standard way to represent data in a platform neutral way.

If you add to these two technologies a few standards such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Service Definition Language (WSDL), and Universal Description and Discovery Interface (UDDI) you have a base set of technologies to build Web service applications. These standards are remarkable in their widespread support – very few times in recent history have standards been accepted by so many software vendors. This includes many of the bitterest rivals in today’s IT sector.

Q: Please describe the major organizations and define the standards associated with Web services?

A: WS-I, OASIS, W3C, JCP are all groups of organizations that are working towards the standardization of Web Service technologies. Each of these groups has hundreds of member companies all working on these standards and implementations of these standards.

Q: Who are the adopters of Web services, how are they planning, implementing and using the services, and how will this evolve over time?

A: Organizations that have a distributed computing enterprise and consequently disparate application infrastructure, ones that are either heavily dependent on outside vendors and suppliers, and ones that are small that wish to create nimble value chains that can compete with larger competitors – are typically the ones that we see that adopting Web Services. However, due to the inherent flexibility of this modular architecture, it can be useful for any moderately complex environment.  In general, the main criteria are to have a number of back end systems and a number of distributed constituencies that need to use them.

Q: How big is the current market for Web services and how will this change over time?

A: According to IDC, the IT opportunity around Web Services will grow at an average annual rate of 94%, to $21 billion by 2007, and will peak at $27 billion in 2010. Currently, a number of corporations are implementing Web Services internally. Today companies use Web Services to solve point problems, and it is not necessarily applied to the larger architecture of the enterprise. As more and more companies realize the value and potential of this technology and Services-Oriented Architecture, we will see it evolve into a larger context which will impact how business is conducted with external partners and customers.

Q: Please detail a traditional business model and the impact Web Services will have on it.

A: Since October 1, 1909, when Henry Ford started building Model-T automobiles at such a rapid pace that he needed to buy factories that manufactured upholstery and steel. In order to ensure production, corporations have sought to vertically integrate their value chain. Companies sought to control all aspects of delivery of their product or service to the market, by controlling the entire life cycle from raw materials to the end user.  This process is extremely costly and only the largest companies can successfully accomplish the task.

Vertically integrated corporations, such as these, are likely to start looking over their shoulder at smaller players in their market to see if they are implementing Web Services. If these smaller companies cost effectively integrate across their value chain using Web Services with business partners, collectively they could provide more value to their customers. This success may lead to more efficiency and may eventually allow the smaller, nimbler, companies to overtake the incumbent.

Q: How do you create a successful business model for Web services? What are the required steps, processes, and actions?

A: There is no one single successful business model. Service Oriented Architectures using Web Services can be implemented by almost any organization, whether there is a need to integrate and realize the potential of their information mine or transact with other organizations to accomplish their business goals. Even if their needs are simply to buy a few office supplies – doing so via EDI, in a previous era, was costly and prohibitive. Web Services and SOA allow these simple business processes to be automated, like they never could before, and for far less cost. This opens up the door to more efficient business.

Q: What specific new ways of thinking about business will come from the planning and implementation of Web services?

A: Businesses are going to find new opportunities surface as the reliability of ubiquitous service interoperability is realized. Specifically, it will reveal the importance of looking at business processes and services in a completely new context. It’s looking at the business from a services point of view and business oriented application design. It’s repurposing an organization’s core Business Value Add or Intellectual Property and allowing that innate value to become valuable beyond the four walls of an organization. An insurance company, for instance, can use Web Services to liberate a valuable actuarial calculation and expose it so it can be called by third-parties – who pay for that access. So now this insurance company participates in markets that they never could have before and can recognize revenue for this access.  

Q: In detail, describe the current Web services business models, how they are planned and implemented, the problems they solve, the solutions and benefits they provide.

A: Web Services and SOA are being implemented in an “inside-out” progression by organizations. We see a trend that corporations are implementing Web Services inside their organization first in an effort to expose their business process to internal departmental consumers. The next step is to expose these services to other parts of the corporation, say different business units or divisions. The third step usually involves extending access to trusted third parties, such as business partners and suppliers. Finally, some corporations expose Web Services to the end user, who typically consumes these services via portals.

This is a typical progression and evolution as organizations adopt Web Services. Of course different organizations have different needs and often times they skip one or more of the steps.

Q: What the current impediments to the planning and implementation of Web services today, one, three, and five years into the future?

A: Technologically, the basics are already there – there is demonstrable interoperability between Web Service stacks. The next steps are establishing security and transactions standards to allow for Web Services to interoperate at these higher levels to enable quality of service levels. This will lead to deployment of applications that have significant business impact on corporations.

Q: What are the future trends in Web Services in two, five and ten years time? What will be the components of these models, how will they be planned, and implemented, and how will they evolve over time?

A: In two years we will see the emergence of several implementations that provide critical functionality, such as single sign-on and complex transactions. Implementations of the “Liberty Alliance” will use federated identity to provide seamless execution of Web Services across multiple domains implemented on varied Web Services stacks. In five years, we will see the beginnings of widespread adoption of Web Services for Application to Application Integration, essentially replacing the older era Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems for inter-corporate communications. Web Services will dramatically reduce the cost of interoperability and allow much smaller companies to implement Zero Latency Enterprises (ZLE) and Straight Through Processing (STP) that can dramatically increase corporate efficiency and, by extension, profitability. In ten years, we’ll see the emergence of applications that are built around concepts proposed by the ongoing work called “The Semantic Web”. The Semantic Web proposes that interoperability will be so widespread that laborious tasks such as collaborative personal scheduling and logistics will be orchestrated using Web Services-enabled personal schedules.

Q: What steps are necessary, how would you plan, create and implement a long-term business model for Web services—one that will have a positive ROI?

A: You implement a carefully planned phase-by-phase approach. Don’t try to do too much in one sweep. Convincing management and ensuring the success of a large project as the first one can be an arduous task. Look to implement and get those quick wins. Then you can apply them to long-term positive ROI.

Q: What are Novell’s solutions and how will they evolve over time?

A: Novell is a leading provider of information solutions that deliver secure identity management, Web application development and cross-platform networking services, all supported by strategic consulting and professional services. They work together to bring about Novell's vision of one Net, a world without information boundaries that helps customers realize the value of their information securely and economically.

More specifically, Novell exteNd is a Web Service-oriented application development suite that simplifies and accelerates the development of interactive business solutions that leverage existing systems. Novell Nsure products give you the power to manage identity and access so you can confidently deliver the right resources to the right people. Novell Nterprise products give you the power to enable and manage the constant interaction of people with your business systems. With the purchase of Ximian and the announced acquisition of SUSE LINUX, Novell will be a leading Linux distribution company and is extending its services and support into the Linux market.

Q: Can you provide case studies that illustrate the Novell solution?

A: We have a number of case studies with customers like ACER in EMEA, Sinclair Oil and Hartford Hospital. You will find a number of such case studies at http://novell.com/success.

Let’s take the example of Hartford Hospital which is a major tertiary care and community health care centre serving the state of Connecticut. With approximately 6,000 employees, Hartford Hospital works with 800 physicians and partners to provide a wide variety of services and is one of the top 10 hospitals in the United States for cardiovascular surgery.

Hartford Hospital wanted to give its physicians easier access to information, including remote access to clinical systems while working outside of the hospital. The hospital sought to create a portal and provide remote access to resources and applications, based on each user's identity and access rights. In addition, the hospital wanted to create new Web applications to leverage the data in its existing mainframe applications, decreasing the need for costly outsourcing for XML transactions. The hospital began searching for a standards-based development platform that was easy to use, providing a short learning curve for its small team of mainframe developers.

They selected a combination of Novell exteNd and Novell Nsure solutions to build a portal that would enable single sign-on and secure remote access to applications. Physicians now access the portal from a standard Web browser - whether from home, the lab, or their offices - eliminating the need for VPN connections and additional IT support. With secure identity management, physicians view a personalized portal with customized content based on identity, thus improving the efficiency of patient care. They were able to design and build this application in just two weeks.

Q: Personally, you have been in a number of executive roles. What processes make for great leadership?

A: Clearly, there is no single magic formula for great leadership, but there are some key ingredients necessary to have the potential for great leadership. Vision, ability to execute with persistence and leading by example are some necessary skills.

Q: We appreciate the time you have taken in sharing your vast knowledge and experiences with our audience—thank you.

A: Thank You.

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