Buyer BewareBy Brian P. Watson | Posted 2006-10-06 Email Print
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Something's wrong with your Web services—and you probably don't know it yet. That's what can happen when businesses expose applications without deploying tools to manage and monitor their performance.
Jose Machado, software engineering director for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, is leading a companywide push toward a service-oriented architecture, which should go full throttle in 2007.
In the meantime, the cruise company has adopted more enterprisewide platforms, such as IBM WebSphere, and applications, like Interwoven for content management. It has also moved to a Java 2 Enterprise Edition framework to facilitate application development.
Machado says Royal Caribbean has tinkered with some Web services, but plans to roll more out once the architecture is built. And when it does, he says, management tools will be a necessity. "If you're gonna do Web services seriously, you need to manage them," he says. "Otherwise you'll spend a lot of time, and you may get some technical achievements, but without management, it's not going to be that simple."
Users cite the linkage between information technology and business processes as the key to pursuing an architecture that supports Web services. But before diving in, technology managers warn that deploying this type of environment requires thorough preparation—and ample governance.
Telecommunications giant Verizon began building a service-oriented architecture in-house in 2003 and today uses SOA Software to manage some Web services. Shadman Zafar, senior vice president of information technology, says that on top of the infrastructure and framework, technology managers need to consider capacity, availability and service-level management implications. "Up front, you need to look at the operational part of it," he points out.
When the founders of Edgility Software—which would become AmberPoint—began focusing on their Web services efforts in late 2001, they expected that companies would first adopt the service architectures before buying management tools, much like what happened with server and mainframe management programs years before, according to Ed Horst, AmberPoint's vice president of marketing.
Horst says that's exactly what happened: the rate of Web services adoption picked up faster than the adoption of management tools. But Martin Fisher, vice president of information technology with MedicAlert, which provides identification bracelets and electronic medical histories, believes companies should add monitoring and management tools when they begin using their service architecture, not after.
"Everyone is under pressure to keep the [return on investment] high and the implementation costs low," he says. "And you can basically lose sight of the fact that if you need management tools to do things day to day, you'll need them to do Web services."