The worlds of Web services and integration are moving slowly toward unification. This was underscored last week with announcements from BEA Systems and Tibco Software that their integration servers will, in large part, bolster their Web services strategies.
As Web services gain momentum among users, integration products will begin to play a critical role in their implementation, said industry observers.
BEA detailed new versions of its WebLogic Integration server and WebLogic Portal, key pieces of the company's e-business stack. The new tools are intended to simplify the development, integration, and presentation of applications, systems, and business processes, officials said. BEA also announced more than 70 new partners that support the portal and integration server via its Portal Star Solution and Portlet Gallery.
"We see Web services emerging as a major new technology. Our WebLogic integration product connects to legacy apps and can expose them as Web services," said Leon Baranovsky, director of strategy for BEA's WebLogic Portal.
BEA's portal then plays the role of Web services client and provides a view into data residing on the various systems integrated on the back end.
"Integration is how the platform gets at the data so it can be presented to users," said Mark Carges, president of BEA's e-commerce division.
Application integration and messaging pioneer Tibco released ActiveEnterprise 4.0 complete with support for XML and J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) to enable users to tap into legacy systems to connect them to Web services infrastructures.
Tibco also plans to add support in subsequent versions for other Web services standards, specifically WSDL (Web Services Description Language) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), said Andrea Eubanks, director of products at Tibco.
"Our customers are looking at tying in Web services because it will give them fluency across the organisation," Eubanks said.
Mike Gilpin, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said that users are looking at Web services as one of the technologies to use for integration.
"We're seeing that about half the interest out there in Web services is generated by the desire to do integration," Gilpin said, continuing that in any new software project, integration is a major issue for companies. "These two types of technologies are merging," he said.