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Silverstream extends hot Web services into cool reality

Already the backlash begins: Is Web services only hype - a mere ploy by software vendors to kindle visibility and reignite revenues? What value will businesses derive from Web services? Does anybody really expect Web services to replace everything else out there and fuel business-model change?


Application strategies
Silverstream extends hot Web services into cool reality

Already the backlash begins: Is Web services only hype - a mere ploy by software vendors to kindle visibility and reignite revenues? What value will businesses derive from Web services? Does anybody really expect Web services to replace everything else out there and fuel business-model change?

To those not on the supply-side of the software industry, sensitivity about Web services propaganda seems well-founded. How many times has the IT department swallowed "hot" technology on behalf of the vendors, jumped through the flaming political and proof hoops to get business advocates on board, and seen the hot technology go up in flames to the embarrassment of all? Why therefore, particularly in these tepid economic times, would any IT department try to fire up the business-side regarding Web services? We all want Web services to turn into the next commercial inferno that drives technology investment. Nonetheless, the too often burned and thus decidedly cynical buy-side waits for some legitimate substantiation of what Web services can do.

So far, most case studies associated with Web services have felt like a stretch. To date, most of the products associated with Web services have offered pieces, in many cases large pieces, but not a holistic approach for developing solutions that take advantage of Web services - until Silverstream's eXtend.

Silverstream announced eXtend in April; announced a platform optimization alliance for Web services for Intel's Itanium in May; and unveiled the first eXtend Workbench beta back in June at JavaOne. Furthermore, Silverstream is working with partners to develop an insurance vertical set of frameworks based on eXtend. What sets eXtend apart from the newest offerings of other Web services?

eXtend Workbench brings together the elements you need for a Web services-based software solution, including:

  • A WSDL editor for building new Web services
  • A UDDI browser to support discovering and publishing Web services, both inside and outside the firewall
  • An efficient SOAP ORB
  • Wizards to adapt Java objects and components (various forms of EJBs, servlets, and JSPs) to Web services, and vice versa
  • One click deployment of Web services to run on J2EE application servers, particularly Silverstream's own J2EE application server, BEA's WebLogic, and IBM's WebSphere
  • Tools to facilitate easy adaption of Web services driven interfaces to various device form factors
  • A project management metaphor to track, compile, and archive solution elements
  • Source editors (Java, JSP, and XML)

eXtend Workbench works within the context of Silverstream's existing product set, including J2EE application server, portal, content management, and integration products.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: Silverstream has taken the first stab at offering an all-in-one J2EE-centric, e-Business platform environment, for use in both development and deployment, for Web services infused solutions. Though a production version of the eXtend remains a few months away, the value of an end-to-end, closed loop approach to Web services working in close conjunction with J2EE becomes obvious when you test drive the eXtend Workbench.

Whether you approach Web services from an integration angle, a Java angle, or a raw WSDL angle, eXtend keeps you in the same development/deployment metaphor, and offers truly easy-to-use tools to get you back and forth. Hurwitz Group estimates that the several months remaining between eXtend's beta and commercial-ready versions are needed for performance tuning, spiffing-up the user interfaces, but most importantly ironing out all the bugs; bringing so much underlying technology to the table in such a development-facilitating fashion represents a daunting engineering task.

But Silverstream's eXtend beta, as is, proves the point. The next generation of software solutions, of the service-driven computing variety, requires a holistic development and deployment approach in order to gain the confidence of IT. If you are a garden-variety corporate developer who is feeling overwhelmed by all the technology that you must manipulate to take advantage of Web services-based solutions, go take a look at eXtend - you will be convinced. eXtend is not the Web services killer application, but it makes the conception of a Web services killer application conceivable.

Will eXtend give Silverstream the technology leg-up it needs to run with the application server nee-Business platform giants like IBM, Oracle, BEA, iPlanet, and potential giant HP/Bluestone? After all, each of the giants have likewise made mammoth Web services product commitments, and all have delivered at least to some degree, with huge plans for the future. Given the huge gaps between its marketing and R&D budget, and that of the giants', Silverstream seems focused on turning eXtend into vertical framework solutions, thus ensuring a profitable future of expertise to technology best-of-breed.

Hurwitz Group can think of no better market approach for Silverstream. Service-based computing will eventually unveil an entirely new type of application - not packaged, not from-scratch, and better than both approaches. By offering the most holistic horizontal approach and quickly repurposing it to service-driven vertical solutions, Silverstream can win big in big niches.


Copyright 2002 Hurwitz Group Inc. This article is excerpted from TrendWatch, a weekly publication of Hurwitz Group Inc. - an analyst, research, and consulting firm. To register for a free email subscription, click here.

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