Careers: Interviews
Internationally Regarded Authority on Web services and Microsoft Senior Developer Specialist...

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, ISP, has an exclusive interview with Ashwin Karuhatty, senior developer specialist with Microsoft. Ashwin is an acknowledged and widely regarded authority in Web services.

Discussion:

Ashwin, 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 Microsoft’s specific solutions to address the areas covered.

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: IT started as the place inside a corporation that utilized computing technology to assist in the activities not directly associated with the core business competency, such as financial reports, payroll, etc. As computing power increased and a PC on every desk became a reality, the role of IT evolved to coordinate the electronic functions and processes between departments inside a corporation, and the role of IT began to touch the core business. The third stage of IT is one where there is a need for technologies to allow businesses to seamlessly communicate over a network. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) and DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) are just some examples of approaches to answer this need, but those approaches did not meet the need in the most interoperable and cost-effective way. Today, Web Services allow systems and applications to communicate over a network using industry agreed-upon protocols. This is a breakthrough thing because now businesses can utilize their existing systems and communicate to different systems through these interoperable protocols.

Q: Who are the organizations associated with Web services and what role do they play?

A: There are many organizations that deal with Web services, but they fall into three major categories: First, the vendors creating Web services technologies, like Microsoft, and the customers who validate the work. The second are standards bodies who look at the specifications and deem them standards, like OASIS (www.oasis-open.org) and the W3C (www.w3.org). And the third is the Web Services Interoperability organization (WS-I, www.ws-i.org) who produces guidelines for using Web services in a way that yields good interoperability.

Q: What are the current recommendations and standards associated with Web services, their version numbers, and define their specific purpose?

A: May 2000: SOAP 1.1 was submitted to the W3C. Most current SOAP implementations are built with support for SOAP 1.1. Work on SOAP version 1.2 is underway in the W3C's XML Protocol working group.

September 2000: UDDI v1.0 founded and released by Microsoft, IBM, and Ariba.

Version 2 of the specifications was published in June 2001 and was rolled out by the UDDI Business Registry (UBR) in May 2002. http://uddi.org/find.html.

Version 3 specification development was completed July 2002.

October 2000: Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 (Second Edition) submitted to W3C.

March 2001: Web Services Description Language (WSDL) 1.1 submitted to W3C.

April 2002: IBM, Microsoft and VeriSign published WS-Security, along with the IBM, Microsoft co-authored roadmap, "Security: Security in a Web Services World: A Proposed Architecture and Roadmap."
http://msdn.microsoft.com/webservices/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/ws-security.asp

August 2002: BEA, IBM and Microsoft publish WS-Transaction.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/ws-transaction.asp

September 2002: Submitted WS-Security to OASIS, along with more than 15 other companies, including BEA Systems, Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, IONA, Novell, Oblix, OpenNetwork, RSA Security, SAP, and Sun Microsystems.

December 2002: IBM and Microsoft, along with BEA Systems, RSA Security, and VeriSign published a set of security specifications, including WS-Policy, WS-Trust and WS-SecureConversation.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/wssecurspecindex.asp

March 2003: IBM and Microsoft, along with BEA Systems and TIBCO Software
published a reliable messaging protocol, WS-ReliableMessaging, as well as a joint white paper, “Reliable Message Delivery in a Web Services World: A Proposed Architecture and Roadmap.”
http://msdn.microsoft.com/webservices/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/ws-reliablemessaging.asp

http://msdn.microsoft.com/webservices/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/ws-rm-exec-summary.asp

http://msdn.microsoft.com/webservices/understanding/specs/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/wsrmspecindex.asp

May 2003: IBM and Microsoft, along with BEA, Siebel Systems and SAP publish Business Process Execution Language for Web Services Version 1.1 (BPEL).

July 2003: BEA, IBM, Microsoft and VeriSign published WS-Federation, along with the IBM and Microsoft co-authored whitepaper, "Federation of Identities in a Web Services World."
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/ws-federation.asp

September 2003: BEA, IBM and Microsoft publish WS-Coordination and WS-AtomicTransaction as part of the WS-Transaction family.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnglobspec/html/wsat.asp

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 the fundamental building blocks in the move to distributed computing on the Internet. Open standards and the focus on communication and collaboration among people and applications have created an environment where Web services are becoming the platform for application integration and interoperability.

More information can be found at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/?url=/library/en-us/dnwebsrv/html/webservbasics.asp?frame=true

Web Services-
- Expose useful functionality with WSDL interfaces and communicate through a standard XML based protocol, SOAP.
- Use XML as a way of representing messages.
- Provide a way to describe their interfaces in detail via an XML document called a Web Services Description Language (WSDL) document.
- Can be registered using Universal Discovery Description and Integration (UDDI) so that potential users can find them easily.

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

A: Microsoft and other major vendors are adopting Web services as well as providing capabilities within their products to implement Web services-enabled solutions. Adoption is not just limited to major companies – there are a lot of startups focused on providing products and solutions directly targeted at the Web services consumer. Internally, we have implemented a project called Alchemy, which is a Web services enabled layer on top of all our packaged applications like Siebel, SAP, etc, which allows flexible interoperability with systems and leverages our existing investments in these technologies.
Over time, most implementations will adhere to standards coming out of the various standards bodies. Today, Microsoft and its industry partners are delivering on the vision of Web services by enabling customers to connect systems from multiple vendors and reach out to partners, customers, and suppliers in new and dynamic ways.

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

A: Today, there is a lot of research done by analysts and companies alike regarding the growth of Web services and the common answer across the board is that the market is huge. Every Fortune 100 executive is talking about adopting Web services, if not already done. Since it is an evolving technology today, the potential market is very huge. Web services capabilities over the next few years will become an integral part of every product and customers will come to expect it. For example, a recent Forrester Research report stated that the new momentum is obvious. In a September survey of IT execs, 85 percent of respondents planned to deploy Web services this year, up from 71 percent a year ago.

Q: Please detail the top ten traditional business models and the impact Web services will have on each of these models.

A: - Financial Services including risk analysis, alerts, payment processing, fraud analysis
- Supply Chain Management
- Data Warehousing
- Data analytics of all types – including field research for pharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence applied in numerous market segments, etc.
- Enterprise Application Integration
- Electronic Data Interchange

Web Services change the fundamental methods of traditional business models by seamlessly bringing together large-scale global heterogeneous systems.

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

A: Successful business models, irrespective of technology, incorporate well defined business processes, IT cultures and risk management. The same applies to creating Web services models as well. Fundamentally, Web services adapt themselves to the concept of Software-as-a-Service (see SOA below). Software today is inexpensive and will become even less expensive in the future – it will probably be much commoditized and Web services will play a huge part in shaping that functionality.

Successful change requires an understanding of the drivers of change, the risks associated with new technology adoption and the ability of the organization to absorb change. Businesses today have made huge investments in technology, which might not address the changing business needs. They need the ability to create architectures that are flexible and have the ability to adapt and evolve. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a term which is very commonly used to define that. SOA allows IT organizations to be more nimble and gives them the ability to directly impact the bottom line of a company as opposed to being a support arm. Web services are helpful building blocks towards achieving a successful SOA.

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

A: Web services offer many benefits, including:
Interoperability — This is the most important benefit of Web services. Web services typically work outside of private networks, offering developers a non-proprietary route to their solutions. Services developed are likely, therefore, to have a longer life-span, offering better return on investment of the developed service. Web services also allow developers to use various programming languages and due to the use of standards-based communications methods, Web services are virtually platform-independent.

Usability — Web services allow the business logic of many different systems to be exposed over the Web. User’s applications have the freedom to use the Web services that they need without re-inventing the wheel for each client.

Reusability — Web services provide not only exploitation of the component-based model of application development, but the closest thing possible to zero-coding deployment of such services. It is very easy to reuse Web service components as appropriate in other services and to deploy legacy code as a Web service.

Deployability — Web services are deployed over standard Internet technologies. Also due to the use of existing specifications and standards coming out of WS-I, most of the functionality surrounding security, reliable messaging and transactions will be built-in.

Scalability – Web Services leverages the Internet as a communication channel which provides the benefit of distributed applications. There are efficient methods to achieve scalability by using Asynchronous Message Delivery, Process Orchestration, etc.

Q: What are the current impediments to the planning and implementation of Web services this year, next year, and three, and five years into the future? Can you be specific in what these impediments are and how they will be resolved?

A: Microsoft is committed to an open, efficient process to garner feedback across industry partners. Through this open and efficient process, we aim to drive adoption and achieve interoperability in a way that results in technology with a high level of engineering quality.

Our mutual experience with the introduction of previous Web services specifications indicates that the process of publishing a specification and creating opportunities for feedback and substantial implementation experience prior to submitting to a standards body typically results in a higher quality specification (for example, SOAP and WS-Security followed this path) and ultimately delivers capabilities to customers faster. Microsoft and other industry partners work very closely with the other co-authors and the industry to actively garner feedback on the technology through feedback and interoperability workshops.

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

A: According to research analyst firm Gartner, enterprises that have already or will soon start using Web services will be in an excellent position in 2007 to realize cost savings, productivity enhancements, new business processes and other benefits. Enterprises that wait until Web services standards, technologies, semantics and business models become stable, increasingly will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

My suggestion to companies is to start implementing Web services today – the pieces and products are in place to build and deploy good business models. Going forward, there is also a strong commitment from major vendors to support and implement Web services. To make the best use of existing investments as well as adapt to changing business needs, Web services and SOA provide an excellent platform. The ROI might take a little longer to be realized, but it will all be worth it.

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

A: Microsoft is strongly committed to Web services and related technologies. Microsoft® .NET is a set of software technologies for connecting information, people, systems, and devices. This new generation of technology is based on Web services—small building-block applications that can connect to each other as well as to other, larger applications over the Internet.

Additionally, Microsoft is a founding member of WS-I (http://www.ws-i.org), which is defining the interoperability standards for Web services across platforms and operating systems. We have a second release of the WS-* specs implementation called Web Service Enhancements (WSE) - http://msdn.microsoft.com/webservices/building/wse/default.aspx. WSE allows Microsoft to build on Web services investments with Visual Studio and the .NET framework and provides the next phase of Web services capabilities. Most of our products going forward will have the ability to seamlessly interact with Web services – today, Office System products, BizTalk Server, Microsoft Operations Manager all have the ability to interact or manage Web services.
We are coming up with a new set of technologies, codenamed “Indigo” - for building and running connected systems. Indigo is a set of technologies for connecting people, information, systems, and devices. Advanced Web services support facilitates secure, reliable, and transacted connections as well as heterogeneous interoperability. Indigo’s powerful messaging capabilities and programming model that extends existing communications capabilities simplifies the development of services. For more information visit: http://msdn.microsoft.com/Longhorn/understanding/pillars/Indigo/default.aspx

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

A: We have many customers using the Microsoft solution to build Web Services and here are a few of them:

Johnson Controls
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/casestudies/CaseStudy.asp?CaseStudyID=13890

Thompson Financial
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/casestudies/CaseStudy.asp?CaseStudyID=14085

Lydian Trust
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/casestudies/CaseStudy.asp?CaseStudyID=13899

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

 

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