International Web Services Authority Provides Valued Expert Advice
This week, Stephen
Ibaraki, ISP, has an exclusive interview with Michael Liebow.
Michael is the Vice
President of Web Services for IBM's Global Services Division, and
views Web Services as the critical enabling technology for IBM's On
Michael has a broad
background, which makes him well suited to bring new concepts to
market. He has held a variety of sales, marketing, and management
positions within a diverse range of industries, including the
high-technology sector, consumer-packaged goods, media, and
entertainment and advertising industries.
Michael joined IBM in
1996, in what was then the Personal Systems Group, and left at the
beginning of 2000 to start an Internet venture. From 1996 to 2000,
Michael kick-started marketing and sales efforts for IBM's
Intel-based server by creating the predecessor to today's xSeries,
the IBM Netfinity. In 1998, Michael articulated a long-term
technical vision for the platform through the creation of the
X-architecture that is a technical blueprint for bringing mainframe
attributes to the Intel server market and which IBM continues to
Q: Michael, 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.
A: Thank you. This is a
very important topic, one that is impacting thousands of IBM
Q: What role is IBM
playing in the evolution of Web Services and what particular
initiatives are the most significant to businesses?
A: IBM is working with
customers across a broad range of Web services adoption; from
initial experimentation through departmental deployment and leading
edge SOA implementation.
For customers who want to
experiment or start off using Web Services, IBM has over 40,000
software developers actively working on Web Services applications
through IBM’s SpeedStart for Developers Program resulting in over
1,500 Web Services created to date.
For customers who want to
deploy Web services across departments IBM has a global team of over
35,000 Application Innovation and Application Management
professionals, including the world’s largest middleware practices,
to help clients develop, integrate, implement and host applications
that exploits IBM’s Application Management Services’ experience in
providing legacy transformation and application portfolio management
to clients around the world. IBM also offers Web services education
classes and training modules for clients, developers and business
partners available through IBM’s IT Education Services.
For customers who want to
deploy Web services across the enterprise IBM offers Web Services
Centers of Excellence that utilize IBM’s Global Business Consulting
Services deep industry knowledge to help clients in specific
industries identify opportunities for Web services and Service
Oriented Architectures (SOA) to help change business processes and
business design. This virtual CoE is made up of experienced IT and
Business professionals from numerous practice areas across BCS,
including Application Innovation, Strategy & Change, and Learning &
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? Can you
provide three specific examples (case studies) using MVS OS/390, MVS
z/OS, and CICS and the specific Web services products/solutions used
to provide competitive advantage?
A: IBM currently has
thousands of customers using Web services to generate business
values, reduce costs and increase revenue. A key benefit of Web
services is that it provides the customer with the ability to
integrate data and business processes regardless of what underlying
technologies the current IT infrastructure is based on.
Arkansas Blue Cross and
Blue Shield and its affiliates generate 12 million manual contacts
(phone, fax, e-mail) annually. The cost for these transactions runs
between $36 - $60 million. And this does not include clearinghouse
charges, which range from 20-35 cents per electronic claim.
Arkansas Blue Cross wants to replace the inefficient tangle of
phone and paper-based transactions with direct, secure and
HIPAA-compliant processes. Its goal is to significantly reduce
administrative costs and increase the efficiency of its operations.
IBM and partner Webify
are helping the insurer build Web services applications that will
put billing and claims processes online, bringing an anticipated 50
percent reduction in its 12 million manual contacts, as well as a 20
percent increase in efficiency in filing and processing claims.
Miami Dade County is
already using Web services projects to improve government operations
and enhance the services it offers to its citizens. It's working
with IBM to implement a Web services architecture that will enable
40 departments to reuse existing mainframe functionality as they
build new e-government applications. Web services will touch all
areas of county business, helping to reduce costs and improve
efficiency between county department operations.
For example, in more
routine matters, such as issuing building permits, the county saves
money and improves service to citizens by allowing them to attain
these necessities online, instead of going to a county office. The
use of Web services allows contractors to apply and pay for building
licenses and permits online and the information is automatically
directed to the appropriate building inspectors.
Web services also powers
its new 311 non-emergency information phone number. It will be the
key in providing operators access to all country information --
regardless of what system it is sitting on -- to answer callers'
Visa's network includes
more than 21,000 members, 396 million cardholders and millions of
merchants in the U.S. It's no surprise that the company must deal
with charge-backs and dispute-resolution as part of the normal
course of business.
The company's most recent
Web services project, Resolve Online, lets banks resolve
charge-backs over the Internet and automates the dispute process
over its network. Now, most cardholder disputes will be resolved
within just one billing cycle. IBM Web services technology is
helping change the way Visa exchanges information with customers and
improving customer services. IBM Global Services played a major role
in developing Resolve Online and is currently working to identify
ways to deliver additional value using Web services and service
Huntington Bank is
working with IBM and Synoran to manage the increasing complexity of
Huntington’s internal systems and provide higher levels of customer
service. Huntington provides innovative retail and commercial
financial products and services to more than 300 regional banking
offices, and has been serving the financial needs of its customers
for more than 137 years. Over the past decade, Huntington Bank
experienced significant growth through acquisitions and increased
cross sales, which led to a more complex IT infrastructure to
support a diverse mix of products, services, and delivery channels.
Implementing advanced Web
services technologies from IBM and SYNORAN, Huntington was able to
drive customer information across lines of business at every
delivery channel and reduce redundant software by 60 percent.
By streamlining their
application infrastructure, the Bank has reduced maintenance costs
and can now take a more focused and strategic approach to future
software development. Web Services also allow the Bank to have
instant access to all their customer data, which reduces the amount
of time customers spend on the phone with customer service
representatives. Other Web services related savings come from ease
in deploying, maintaining and upgrading systems.
Q: What is IBM’s
long-term strategy and specific solutions regarding Web services in
small, medium, and large systems? How will this affect business
A: The long term strategy
is to help customers transform to become on demand businesses. To
accomplish this Web services will become a critical component of
Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), which will help customers
solve more business problems while simplifying the IT infrastructure
into standardized components, or services built into software, that
can be reused and combined to address growing and changing business
Unlike new technologies
that force customers to rip and replace, IBM’s Service Oriented
Architectures leverage existing hardware and software investments.
Standardized technologies in an SOA, including Web services, package
business tasks from applications to create reusable “services” that
address specific business problems.
With an SOA, retailers
can automatically replenish inventory once it dips to a certain
level and have the order automatically filled by the supplier
offering the best price; companies that merge can integrate customer
data faster without having to combine IT infrastructures first; and
health insurance companies reimburse consumers faster by eliminating
manual touch points in processing claims between patients, doctors
and clearing houses.
Q: Please detail the top
traditional business models and the impact Web services will have on
each of these models.
A: Web services are
dramatically impacting traditional business models. Customers are
changing what they buy and how they pay for it; the industry is
moving towards solutions-based pricing and away from assembling
piece parts. This is virtually killing tradition business models,
such as best of breed purchasing. Near term, the impact of Web
services is faster and easier integration of systems. The cost of
integration will decline as the volume of Web services used in the
enterprise increases. Longer term Web services will impact the scale
to which businesses can quickly adapt and add new Web services to
change more business processes. Scalability of Web services will be
a key differentiator.
Q: What specific new ways
of thinking about business will come from the planning and
implementation of Web services?
A: Web services is
changing the way companies think about business. They are leading to
a Component Business Model concept that focuses on those business
processes that are strategic, common or an un-differentiator for the
business. Companies will focus more and more on core specialties and
look elsewhere to accomplish non core activities. This is leading to
the reemerging ASP business model, with a core focus on providing
customers with a service that solves a business need. These services
solve business problems regardless of underlying technology and are
focused on a company’s expertise in a given business process. Web
services are giving new life to the ASP business model.
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
A: Today there is
tremendous value in implementing Web Services. The biggest challenge
this year will be line of business and management that there is
value in doing so. Secondly the biggest challenge to assuring that
Web services will succeed is making sure that customers start Web
services use with the proper decision framework in place, one that
focuses on the specific business problems.
Q: If you were doing this
interview, what question(s) would you ask and what would be your
A: Q1) There are some
thoughts that suggest the customers will waste a significant amount
of money on failed attempts to implement Web services. The question
is, how do customers make the most out of Web services
implementations and make every dollar count?
A1) Customers need a
trusted partner that will help them on the journey from initially
starting to implement Web services today to the vision of a full
Service Oriented Architecture and a complete transition to an on
demand business. IBM has the dedicated resources in place to make
certain our software products will support new Web services as
specifications become available. IBM Global services has the skills,
roadmaps and partnerships in place to help customers businesses
evolve in new efficient and profitable directions.
We appreciate the time
you have taken in sharing your vast knowledge and experiences with
our audience—thank you.