Web Services

From Vision to Reality

Von Ann Toh

Web services, however, crossed the religions of components. "Its advantage is that all the significant vendors are rushing to provide support for it. If we use other products, we would have to buy a framework from one vendor and build all our systems on the same framework because they would work [best] with that middleware. In our organisation it is not practical to have one environment to build everything in as we have 100 systems and might only work on 10 to 20 in any given year.

"Another attraction is the use of XML. Every vendor was providing good support for it. This means we stop needing to do the plumbing, i.e., writing the codes that link everything together, because we expect all our vendors to be able to cope with it," he says. This is the main source of savings from Web services, he adds.

ABS started working on its Web services approach two years ago as part of a reengineering exercise, the Business Survey InnovationInnovation Programme, for its 50-plus surveys, which aims to reap savings of A$10-12 million (US$6.14-7.37 million) a year. Alles zu Innovation auf

ABS is developing its applications in house, as it is under legislative requirements to protect the security of its data. Its platforms for Web services include Lotus Notes, Microsoft Windows desktops and Oracle databases that run on Unix boxes. It uses Web services standards SOAP and WSDL but not UDDI. "UDDI is not yet a W3C recommendation. Internally we don't need UDDI although we'll need some sort of directory process. Externally, I expect we will register our services in a variety of directories; they might be public UDDI registries run by Microsoft, registries run by the Australian government, or links in the statistical community."

A Web Services Connection

As a new kid on the U.S. telco block, Virgin Mobile USA, LLC, which operates on a 100-percent pre-paid business model, set out to position itself as providing the most competitive pre-paid rates compared to post-paid products, but without the hassles associated with the latter, such as hidden charges, taxes, contracts or credit checks. The partnership between Sprint and the Virgin Group promised its customers easy-to-activate service and high levels of customer self-service and care. As it targets the youth market, it hopes to lure its trendy audience with innovative services including message-oriented applications, Virgin Xtras such SMS games and music content, and relationships with business partners like MTV. "All this meant that our IT infrastructure has to be 'now' and operate in real-time, transaction-focused mode," says Mike Parks, Virgin Mobile USA's CIO, who was tasked with developing all internal and external interfaces for Virgin's business infrastructure within seven months.

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