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Why UDDI Rocks

In this point/counterpoint, Microsoft's Steven Martin, senior director of product management in the Connected Systems Division...tells us why UDDI rocks. "Six years ago, SOAP was something you washed your hands with, and cross-vendor system interoperability was a major obstacle facing CIOs and architects. Today, Web services technologies are ubiquitous. Every CIO worth his or her salt has a strategy for where Web services fits into the portfolio of IT investments.

"Nearly every major system, whether custom-built or off-the-shelf, includes a Web services interface for extensibility and interoperability. Consider a few pieces just from Microsoft: any Web services client-.Net, Java, PHP, Python, Visual Basic, C#, you name it-can connect to Exchange Server to retrieve schedules or to send e-mail messages.

"An Excel spreadsheet can collect data from an underwriting application implemented in Java. Any Web services client can connect to SQL Server or to SharePoint Server. A PHP application running on Linux can send a computation out to the Excel Services engine. A ColdFusion page can kick-off a business process hosted in BizTalk Server.

"The beauty of this is that all major software vendors support it-Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SAP-as well as smaller targeted vendors who supply call center applications, human resources applications, or manufacturing control systems. SOAP is everywhere. You can even manage your Cisco or F5 gear over SOAP.

"This is not about the bits-and-bytes. Web services bring business value today. We all know [that] no company conducts business exclusively within their four walls. The broad industry support for Web services means you can stitch together systems from different vendors, or integrate major building blocks from partners and acquired companies. That brings real business agility benefits.

"In six years, systems interop has become dramatically simpler and easier, and SOAP and WSDL have made that possible. Despite the massive adoption of SOAP, there are other protocols, and that will always be the case. Innovation and evolution breeds specialization and heterogeneity.

"REST, using XML or not, is often cited as an alternative to SOAP. True enough, but this a distinction without a difference. Does it really matter if there are angle brackets or curly braces on the wire?

"The key requirements are: it-just-works interoperability between systems, productivity and power with the development and management tools, and flexibility or "future proofing" in the programming frameworks.

"These are the tenets supported by Microsoft's integration infrastructure, including Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), the high-performance programming framework for communications; and BizTalk Server, the process engine and integration hub. These pieces remain constant regardless of how you decide to employ SOAP, REST or some other system-specific protocol.

"Where are the opportunities for improvement in today's integration technologies? There are several, but given current trajectory, service registry is an important area. Today, IT manages multiple repositories: a code repository for developers, a systems repository for systems managers, a project repository for project managers. SOA initiatives may add a service repository to the mix.

"Converging or federating these disparate systems, and exposing this information to stakeholders in all phases of the IT system lifecycle-project managers, architects, developers, business analysts, compliance managers, security officers, systems administrators and so on-will spur the next great jump in business productivity and agility. This convergence is a key part of the vision behind Microsoft's forthcoming 'Oslo' wave of products.

"SOAP, WSDL, WS-*, and UDDI are proven and widely adopted, and REST is growing strongly. Building upon that base, the next evolution of this infrastructure will bring even more value."

And there you have it. 'nuff said!

Read the complete article in CIO Magazine. Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
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