|By Allen Brown||
|October 21, 2002 12:00 AM EDT||
Web services fits into the operational model that The Open Group calls Boundaryless Information Flow - the secure, reliable, and timely flow of information throughout and between enterprises. At our recent conference, chief officers from enterprises that use Web services in their business, including the business of government, recounted the role of Web services in achieving Boundaryless Information Flow. The tales of successes and challenges from McGraw-Hill, MasterCard, and the federal government offered surprises, affirmed a few fears, and highlighted specific victories in the world of Web services.
"McGraw-Hill is all about brands, people, and content," said Jim King, McGraw-Hill's chief information officer, as he introduced examples of how the company uses Web services to promote its brands, connect people, and deliver content. As a vertical information provider serving the top industries in the world - education, healthcare, finance, and construction - McGraw-Hill has gone beyond today's best practices in Web services and is now laying the foundation for the future of Web services. Let's look first at what they're doing today, and then push into the future.
The overarching objective of McGraw-Hill's Web services is achieving what King calls "content and context transparency." One of the first questions McGraw-Hill's Web services team asks themselves is, "What is the user's context?". That is, what is the consumption method, or what is the context in which they need McGraw-Hill information? King emphasized that a media organization such as McGraw-Hill gains credibility based on editorial context - and context management can be a nightmare! The act of mapping context to content entails a keen understanding of the workflow of an industry and the people in it.
Transparency must be embedded in the flow of information and the flow of data. In the flow of information, content is delivered within a domain context, and integration into an application services context is transparent to the user. In the flow of data, content within a functional context is transparent to the processes that manipulate that data. The latter point is contingent on interoperability, which is the cornerstone of Boundaryless Information Flow. King discussed two specific use cases involving financial services and construction.
McGraw-Hill's business unit Standard & Poor's has built a set of about 60 Web services, which the company characterizes as encapsulations of content delivery to end-user devices and applications. The number makes sense in light of the comprehensive nature of S&P. The financial services include securities information and evaluations, ratings services, risk management and assessment tools, equity analysis, fund services, financial reporting, value consulting, and much more.
The S&P Web services rely heavily on an alliance with Sun Microsystems, but involve a mixture of technologies designed to use Smart Tags and Microsoft XP to deliver content directly to the customer's desktop:
|Solaris||--->||Microsoft .NET||--->||Microsoft Office XP|
King continued by noting that the complexity of Web services for the construction industry "is more indicative of why we need all this transparency." McGraw-Hill links facility owners and other key players with the project and certain products. The company currently represents more than 600,000 construction projects in the United States alone. And as he enumerated what types of content support them, King said that in paper form, "there are hundreds of pounds of information per project."
The workflow in the industry between the data and what people in the industry do with the data concurrently engages multiple applications, consumers of information, and products. At any given time, the people who need the data include the facility owner, lead architect, project engineer, general contractor, building parts suppliers, facility manager, and service providers. The primary applications in play are financial, CADD, document management, project management, estimating, and scheduling. McGraw-Hill's (Sweets.com) products number about 61,000, including specifications, downloadable CAD libraries, streamlined contact with local manufacturers' reps, and much more.
As King noted, "Our industries are hugely complex. They are not transparent. They are not integrated. They are certainly not interoperable. But the winners among the vertical information providers - they are the companies that can get this workflow right and influence the providers of technology to help us map that technology and our content into this workflow."
In trying to create an architecture that serves that goal for its construction market, McGraw-Hill forged an alliance with Microsoft. King asserted that Microsoft's integrated approach seemed up to the task of achieving transparency in Web services for an industry with 1.2 million different businesses. He feels that, in this situation, Microsoft .NET keeps the customer focus on the content, and not how they got it.
King's explanation engendered interesting discussion in terms of The Open Group's vision of Boundaryless Information Flow. The Open Group has an unwavering commitment to work with suppliers, consortia, and standards bodies to develop consensus and facilitate interoperability - to evolve and integrate specifications and open-source technologies. Knowing this, King engaged the audience head-on in a discussion of proprietary Web services solutions versus others. This invariably led to one of the times when conference presentations "affirmed a few fears." In short, the industry needs more open standards that address the issues of security, reliability, and timeliness in the Web services world.
This is one reason why The Open Group took the unprecedented step of bringing together leaders of seven consortia to spotlight how they are contributing to the body of open standards for Web services and to ascertain areas of potential collaboration (see sidebar).
King also teased the audience with a glimpse of what McGraw-Hill sees as the future of Web services: nanoservices. So as vendors contemplate ways of evolving Web services, they should keep in mind that at least one large customer is looking at extending Web services to communication with machines inside the body.
Simon Pugh, vice president of Standards & Infrastructure, MasterCard International, noted that e-commerce now represents 3 to 4% of MasterCard's business, and this is becoming an extremely important new channel. Inhibitors to buying on the Internet are the length of time involved and concerns about security and privacy. Addressing those issues will support MasterCard's e-business strategy to take credit card use into new areas in terms of both transaction size and type.
Standards are key to the solution. Pugh asserted his concern that the standards required to support Web services are not mature, particularly in the area of security. Other issues are a perceived lack of stability in the architectures, the need for vendor-neutral tools, and the costs of technology change.
MasterCard does, however, see expanding potential for the use of Web services in many areas, one of which is their ATM Locator, which enables customers to locate the nearest MasterCard ATM from a device such as a WAP phone or a PDA.
It is also working on a Secure Payment Application, an initiative for Internet transactions that provides a guaranteed payment to the merchant. The consumer is authenticated for the transaction by the issuer, and a token (UCAF - Universal Cardholder Authentication Field) is provided to the merchant, who then submits the populated UCAF to receive the payment guarantee. This application will be XML based and is addressed to the URL of the authentication mechanism of the customer's bank. As a final note, Pugh emphasized that with mobile transactions the situation becomes more complex, and MasterCard is looking to build an authentication Web service.
The Federal Government
In terms of the distance to travel to implement robust Web services, Mark Forman's territory is the largest described by any user presenting at the conference. The Bush Administration's associate director of information technology and e-government, Office of Management and Budget, began with the statement of a daunting IT-related goal: "We're trying to reform the federal government." Forman then carefully outlined how his organization intends to turn $53 billion in Fiscal Year 2003 IT expenditures into benefits for U.S. citizens. His view, expressed strongly in a presentation entitled "The Need for Web Services in the Federal Government," is that Web services comprise a big part of the future IT scheme for federal agencies.
One goal of the Bush Administration is to move the government from being agency centered to being citizen centered. Embedded in that goal, according to Forman, is the vision of "an order of magnitude improvement in the federal government's value to the citizen; with decisions in minutes or hours, not weeks or months." Forman describes the current ROI horror - the reason why big expenditures in technology still have not quickened the pace of decision-making: "We've triple invested and we're not leveraging the business practices." He raised eyebrows by admitting that government agencies have often spent substantial funds to shut down functionalities in the technology they have procured. It has sometimes reflected a conscious avoidance of business practices.
Forman defined e-government as "the use of digital technologies to transform government operations in order to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and service delivery." The aim is not just one of making information available via the Internet - there are thousands of federal Web sites and the government is heavily dependent upon electronic connectivity. The task is essentially one of enterprise resource management. The problem is illustrated by the way in which departments approach it: each does its own, but in fact no one was looking at the total enterprise. At the core of Forman's approach to solving the problem is "simplify and unify."
In essence, "simplify" means adopting simple business practices. At the moment, if a company of any size needs to do business with the federal government, it needs to hire a lawyer or an accountant to navigate the complexities of the system.
"Unify" is just as straightforward. Different arms of the federal government have gathered vast quantities of information that they have not shared with each other, primarily because they had no efficient mechanism to do so. As a consequence, organizations and individuals have been burdened with submitting the same information many times. An inherent part of the solution is that the government, like any business, has to focus on key customer segments - citizens, businesses, intergovernmental contacts, and government employees. To quantify the problem, U.S. businesses alone spend 7.7 billion staff hours a year sending information to the government!
Key technology trends that the federal government is tracking to support the "simplify and unify" strategy are, among others, increasing broadband content and transactional interoperability among government, industry, and individuals; and identifying commodity transaction components that facilitate increasingly agile integration. A central trend Forman hit on was "looking for Web services to become business services."
The federal government defines Web services as Web-accessible automated transactions that are integrated into one or more business processes. They have two main attributes. First, Web services allow the government to build business functionality. Second, they are generally invoked through Web service interfaces, clearly leveraging open standards. A Web service, said Forman, is not a complete solution but a component that contributes to the construction of a solution.
He cited two key opportunities that arise through the use of Web services: accelerating cycle time and enterprise modernization. If Web services can be coupled and scaled in a realistic manner, the federal government will take a giant step toward achieving the Bush Administration's stated goal.
Forman also identified what sort of Web services opportunities exist right now:
-Disaster management: Location of assets, predictive modeling results, and availability of hospital beds
-Strategic planning: Access to capability, decision support, data availability, and analysis
-Financial management: Debt collection, payment processing, collection, and reporting
He saw the following fundamentals for success in applying Web services:
In conclusion, Forman turned to the burning question of how to leverage Web services quickly, and then highlighted the following issues that need to be resolved:
The Open Group Point of View
Web services play a central role in fulfilling the mission of Boundaryless Information Flow, so the same fundamental elements must be present in both - security, timeliness, and reliability. Whether we're talking about enterprises like McGraw-Hill and MasterCard or the agencies of the federal government, none of these objectives will be realized in a customer-centric way without collaboration between buyers and suppliers.
The sense of urgency that energizes that collaboration - that makes things happen at Internet speed - comes from committing to the vision. In short, we achieve Boundaryless Information Flow in our information infrastructures when all parties involved have action plans and timelines to achieve it. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of choice. Do you want to be one of those people who changes and revolutionizes the way business is done? The Open Group does and hopes others will, too.
|02/08/03 10:50:00 AM EST|
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
Dec. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,056
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Dec. 20, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 2,040
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 20, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,921
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Dec. 20, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,356
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Dec. 20, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,232
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Dec. 20, 2014 10:45 AM EST Reads: 2,217
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 20, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,272
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Dec. 20, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 2,083
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:45 PM EST Reads: 1,101
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,331
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
Dec. 18, 2014 06:00 AM EST Reads: 875
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:15 PM EST Reads: 1,365
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,416
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,408
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Dec. 17, 2014 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,316
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,530
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Dec. 16, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,362
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
Dec. 15, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,716
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Dec. 15, 2014 10:30 AM EST Reads: 6,901
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
Dec. 15, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,975