Following An Architecture For Web Services

Wakesoft Architecture Platform Version 4 launches this week, offering Java developers a framework in which much of the underlying plumbing for Web services can be quickly added to the application.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

July 16, 2003

3 Min Read

It's easier to convert an application's business logic into a Web service if the application was designed with the structure and hooks that let it readily connect to HTTP, XML, and other standard technologies used on the Web.

But most applications aren't designed that way, says Walter Hurst, chief technology officer at Wakesoft Inc. Rather, they're designed to meet specific business requirements on a set budget "within very demanding deadlines. What gives are the architectural considerations" that would make it easy to convert to Web services, he says. To fill in some of those missing architectural elements, the small firm of 30 employees launched its Wakesoft Architecture Platform Version 4 this week, offering Java developers a framework in which much of the underlying plumbing for Web services can be quickly added to the application.

The platform offers a Java 2 Enterprise Edition modeling environment in which developers map business logic to software objects. Then an underlying code generator builds the skeleton application, says Jason McElravy, supervisor of Web development at Fisher Scientific International Inc., a supplier of health-care products, specialty chemicals, and safety equipment.

McElravy says Fisher has used the Wakesoft Architecture Platform over the past nine months to build three internal Java applications. The projects weren't designed or executed as Web-services applications, but the platform's ability to generate Enterprise Java Beans, or modules of code that can be called separately on a network, makes a future conversion to a Web service much more feasible. "Two of the three have a very strong prospect of being migrated for reuse in a services environment," he says.

Using an architectural platform such as Wakesoft's also has the benefit of a rapid application development environment. The model becomes the skeleton application, due to code generation underneath the surface of the platform's design environment. Developers go to work from there to fill in the structure, says McElravy. The next application, built on the same platform, ends up with a similar structure and set of hooks to connect to Web services, he says.

Even if not geared initially as a Web service, the structure of the applications makes it easier to add the Web services later. The platform "enables project teams to deliver systems ready for a services-oriented-architecture in phases," says Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink, an XML and Web-services analyst firm. An application could first be given connectivity to HTTP, then at a later date get the benefit of having its output parsed into XML to keep in step with user requirements, he notes.

To avoid generating new legacy systems, development teams must implement an architecture that lets the application be modified. Wakesoft started in the fall of 2001 supplying a framework for Java development that invoked Sun Microsystems' blue prints, or the best practices learned from the Java reference implementations. Now Wakesoft is adding the plumbing and instrumentation to an application's structure that let it more easily function as a Web service.

For example, applications built on the platform have built-in Architecture Monitoring of event information within the application's processes. The monitoring provides a flow of information that can be analyzed downstream, when problems and performance issues are being assessed.

Reporting monitored information can be done via Java Management Extensions, Java Messaging Service, or the SNMP management protocol.

In addition, the platform provides a way to coordinate the invocation of application services with the sequence in which they are invoked at runtime. A company's Web service could thus be a consumer of an outside Web service, using it to augment a service it was built to provide.

Applications built with the platform integrate easily with service management tools, such as those from AmberPoint, Confluent Software, and Talking Blocks.

Version 4.0 is available now for $35,000 per CPU and $4,995 per developer seat.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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