WebMethods: Integration Level Key

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Integration middleware vendor WebMethods last week unveiled a three-pronged strategy to help solution providers build and deploy Web services that leverage existing investments in IT systems.

WebMethods unveiled its strategy in response to customers that want to build Web services from applications already in place, said Kim Trudel, vice president of enterprise Web services at the vendor, based here.

"Customers want to be able to take the investments they've made,packaged applications and business processes,and expose them as Web services," Trudel said.

WebMethods' latest initiative will focus on helping customers manage deployed Web services and enabling solution providers to build services on a platform that uses existing technology to design new solutions.

"We're saying you don't have to take out what you've built. You don't have to do new development," Trudel said. "You can use what you already have."

Ron Bisaccia, a partner in the Northeast region's architecture and integration division at systems integrator Arthur Andersen, said WebMethods' approach to Web services is to build them at the integration level, not the app-server level,a sound perspective since Web services must connect and integrate with many systems.

"Ultimately, you don't want someone who needs to deal with a Web service to know where it's running in middleware," Bisaccia said. "Having the Web service functionality live [in the integration layer makes perfect sense, whereas app servers aren't normally exposed to the outside world."

Most early Web services adopters will be large companies using services that already have an integration layer they can build on, Bisaccia said. "It's doubtful that many mom-and-pop places are going to be doing Web services in the near future," he said.

Originally a player in the XML-based B2B exchange space, WebMethods last year switched its focus to selling middleware enabling enterprise application integration (EAI) in addition to B2B. Recently, the company has beefed up partnerships with large systems integrators and alliances with consultants such as Accenture, Arthur Andersen, Deloitte Consulting, Cap Gemini Ernst and Young and KPMG.

Trudel said WebMethods will make "additional investments" in the areas of Web services management, business process modeling and workflow technologies.

In addition, WebMethods will continue to enhance support for Web services standards such as WSDL and SOAP as they gain wider adoption, she said.

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