Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

A Web Services-Oriented Approach to Unlock Information

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

A Web Services-Oriented Approach to Unlock Information

Article excerpt

Introduction

Web services, due to their ability in cost-effectively connecting applications, systems and partners, are leading to major change to business processes (e.g., improvement, reengineering, composition, e-business and B2B). They are expected to effectively enable dynamic e-business (Maruyama, 2002). This requires IT organizations to evaluate their systems architectures and determine how they will deliver Web services (Chen, 2003). However, the deployment of Web services is still hindered by some technical and methodological issues. Technical issues are related to security, availability and performance.

While methodological issues concern with approaches, processes and methods to deploy Web services. This work deals with approaches of identifying, designing, implementing, and deploying Web services. Indeed, we still lack a coherent framework that allows guidance towards a method (including process, models and tools) to deploy such a revolutionary technology (Box, 2003). There are a number of potential approaches (e.g., top down, bottom up, incremental) that can be used to deploy Web services. However, major vendors use generally a bottom up approach (and to a less extend an incremental approach) that consists of mapping/ wrapping existing applications, components or classes into Web services. The generation approach is generally performed through two steps. The first step consists of generating a callable interface of a component. The callable interface is defined in a Web services definition language (WSDL) file (similar to CORBA IDL file). For instance tools such as wsdlgen (http://longhorn.msdn.microsoft.com/lhsdk/indigo/conwsdlgentool.aspx) and GLUE (http://www.webmethods.com/docs/glue/guide/index.html) are used to generate Web services interface from existing Java classes. The second step consists of generating, for each WSDL file, the portion of the code that is used by the client applications to invoke the Web services. Tools such as Axis (http://ws.apache.org/axis), or WSIF (Web Service Invocation Framework: http://ws.apache.org/wsif/) are used to generate a stub (proxy) code from a WSDL file. That is, Web services are generally deployed:

* In ad-hoc, and spontaneous way, which makes them brittle (Altman, 2003).

* For a limited category of services (e.g., xMethods: http://www.xmethods.net).

* For tests, tutorials, etc.

Therefore, this kind of a case-by-case basis approach yields Web services that are not fully potential and useful. Moreover, the generated Web services are IT-perspective oriented. There is a lack of framework, or guidance to deploy a comprehensive and multipurpose set of fully useful and potential Web services. That is, Web services that are used for: interfacing legacy systems and components, integrating applications, B2B integration, and dynamic e-business.

This paper proposes a process to generate a comprehensive set of Web service from the knowledge an organization has on its elements at the highest-level abstraction level of a business model that is the universe of discourse. This knowledge is the information related to two types of elements: (i) the unchangeable and perpetual business objects, which are mainly products/services, raw material, parts, customers, accounts, and partners/suppliers; and (ii) the coordination artifacts representing the state of the business processes. Indeed, elements identified at the universe of discourse are sound and complete. That is: (a) any formal knowledge (information or processes) is derived from these elements; (b) these elements trigger the relevant business events or are affected by business events to which the organization is sensitive. For instances: the business event 'shipment' is triggered by the a state 'accepted order' of the coordination artifact 'portfolio' used to coordinate the 'order entry' business process. While the business event 'customer order' affects the balance of the business object 'customer'. …

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