Legacy applications can be turned into web services with just three mouse clicks using software released by WebMethods, the company claims.
While other web services proponents such as IBM and Microsoft are encouraging companies to develop brand new service applications, the WebMethods software allows re-use of legacy systems without code changes.
The WebMethods software will fuel debate over exactly what is a web service, and how it can be deployed.
While analyst Gartner is predicting that 75 per cent of web services deployments will be behind the enterprise firewall, standards body the Object Management Group (OMG) has stated that deploying legacy applications is not practical.
"Since the early 1990's organisations have used middleware more and more, but the detailed requirements are different [to the Web Services middleware] and you can't really recycle them," said Andrew Watson, the OMG's vice president and technical director, last week.
WebMethods has built on its application integration software to create Enterprise Web Services, a package containing all the elements needed to deploy and run Web Services on a range of operating systems.
"Over the past six months we have been speaking to our customers," said Kim Trudel, vice president of enterprise web services at WebMethods. "They tell us they don't want to start new development projects but to use existing applications as a business service."
She said existing applications could be re-used in a few seconds if the default options were selected.
The suite also includes business process modelling and management (BPM) which allows an enterprise to model the sequence in which the service applications are run.
For instance, if a very high value order is processed through a web service application, this may trigger a manual sign-off function.
WebMethods does not expect the software to be deployed across enterprise boundaries at this stage.
"The Web Services UDDI [the universal description, discovery and integration directory] standard is not yet good enough," said Trudel. "There is work to be done on privacy, and there is no service hierarchy capability. Nor is there a Web Services security standard."
For this reason WebMethods includes some UDDI extensions and its own security.
Trudel said WebMethods was working closely with the World Wide Web Consortium on the UDDI extensions and a new security standard, although she thought the latter was 6-12 months away.
"When the standards are in place we will migrate users across," she said.
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