Why Novell is buying SilverStream
The battleground for Web services is moving on from the infrastructure required to deliver application components, to the tools that are needed to create them. The development of standards, although important, is of little interest to the businesses that will use Web services. Their interest is in how to gain as much benefit as possible in terms of reuse, consistency and time to market. Novell has just announced its intention to purchase tools provider SilverStream. A quick look at the technology might tell us why.
The SilverStream products sell under the eXtend umbrella name and are designed to provide support for Web services applications across multiple platforms. They are based upon the practical realisation that Web services, today, are not well suited to the widespread use of third party components. Instead it supports the development of Web services for business integration and B2B processes.
It is for business processes that the eXtend products are designed. It starts with the eXtend Composer tool that provides a highly intuitive graphical view of the process under development. Processes can be nested to keep the view close to line of thought and are accessed simply by drilling down into the various levels of the diagram. Composer provides full support for the mobile and partially disconnected nature of the web by including features that handle long-running transactions.
At the bottom layer of the process structure, SilverStream provides a wide collection of adaptors that allow it to link into the business applications within the organisation. SilverStream has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that it is able to use whatever electronic interface is available to gain access to applications on obscure and odd platforms.
The completed business process is deployed to a J2EE server. SilverStream has its own application server but will also sit happily alongside IBM's WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic servers. Deployment of components is dynamic with run-time interpretation of the business processes. This allows the development of rules and the use of plug-in content.
Altogether, the SilverStream solution provides an intuitive approach to the development of business processes based on a mixture of automated and human activities. It has excellent links through to back office applications and provides an easy step through to J2EE based Web services. This is a good purchase for Novell that will take its Web services offerings beyond the infrastructure and into the business.
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