IBM pushes Web services to mainstream

The installation of applications servers by the government will lead to greater use of Web services, according to Robert Sutor, director of Web services technology for IBM Corp.

Web services, an emerging technology that sets an open standard for computers to swap information directly with other computers, has been touted by IBM as the next generation platform upon which software is developed.

The proof, according to Sutor, is that all of today's application servers?offered not only by IBM (its WebSphere line) but also by competitors such as BAE Software Inc., San Jose, Calif.?have Web services components built in. So as agencies have gone through their standard server upgrade cycles, they will become Web services-ready, he said.

"Those tools are already at the agency's disposal, whether or not they know it now," Sutor said. Application servers are servers that bridge legacy applications or databases to end-users through a Web platform.

Sutor said IBM has two projects in the government space that support his position.

IBM is working with the Defense Information Systems Agency on a proof-of-concept for an early warning system that, when disaster strikes, quickly alerts officials through a variety of media, including instant messages.

New Mexico is also using an IBM Web services-based solution for a citizen portal. IBM worked with content management provider Vignette Corp., Austin, Texas, to develop a solution that allows citizens to find state documents, Sutor said.

"As of January, I would like to tell people in IBM that Web services is no longer an emerging technology, but that it is just very early mainstream," Sutor said in an interview following a Web services industry debate held at the Comnet trade show this week in Washington.

Nonetheless, he said certain aspects of Web services still need to mature for enterprise-level use. "We are about half way through the development cycle," Sutor said.

"If integrators want to start pilot projects we will have help them and have the tools available," Sutor said, adding that more enterprise-wide development tools will follow in the near future.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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