Part II: SOAP - Disrupting the Balance of Power
By Annrai O'Toole
The disruption in the balance of power comes from the change in the profile of people building business systems.
Most software vendors plan to offer XML based composition as part of their application servers. The assumption being that the J2EE/EJB/CORBA server will remain the core of the corporate systems.
A more fundamental shift will however take place. The composition layer will become the new design center for building applications. As more and more developers begin to compose applications, the underlying server will lose relevance.
Just as the Web server created a new less skilled design center, populated by the 'Webmaster'. The SOAP-based XML Web service will create a new less skilled design center. Business processes will be published, customized and integrated by what we term a 'Bizmaster'.
To a Webmaster, programming HTML for a web server, the underlying operating system is of little relevance. The 'Bizmaster' will discover the underlying application server is of a similar reduced importance.
Suddenly powerful technology will be in the hands of a developer who has no Java or C++ systems experience. The balance of power will shift from skilled systems developers to the new class of 'Bizmaster'. Information Technology for business suddenly becomes devolved, away from the corporate IT departments. Line managers will build the business systems they want - themselves.
This is the same sort of fundamental shift that Microsoft saw when they realized the Internet was the future. No longer could they simply rely on believing that to control the operating system was to control the industry.
The network API of the future is this SOAP XML layer. And best of all, the entire API is simple XML text.
At Cape Clear we are building technology that automatically generates SOAP interfaces from the standard business components such as EJB and CORBA. While EJB and CORBA technologies typically only work within the corporate firewall, SOAP enables these technologies to be exposed as Web services.
Our first product CapeConnect lets you automatically generate Web services from any business application based on EJB (J2EE) and CORBA systems.
In addition to automatically generating the Web services, CapeConnect enables developers to modify and manage this SOAP message as it is being transmitted to the back-end systems from which it was generated. This means that a whole variety of customization to the Web service can be performed at the XML level, rather than in the back-end application. No compilation is required for front-end changes-just like HTML nowadays.
This creates the loose coupling we described above. Customization and integration of the Web service are in the hands of the XML programmer. Tools are needed to help the programmer do customize and integrate.
Cape Clear is also developing CapeStudio, tools that allow you to simply drag and drop to manage and link various XML-based Web services. The combination of CapeConnect and CapeStudio will provide the Composite Application Server technology that allows anyone to simply integrate their business with another.
Finally we believe in this technology so much, that we are building some mini-applications on top of it. These mini-applications can be simply joined together with our tools. Already we run our in-house systems on CapeConnect, and you can check out our RegisterBot system, which provides you with a license key when you download CapeConnect.
Cape Clear is focused on making the development and composition of Web services easy. Broad adoption and ease-of-use are the basic prerequisites for 'Automating the Business Internet'.
Copyright 2001, Cape Clear. Reprinted by permission.
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