IN THE RACE to Web services integration, key differentiators will come not from underlying protocols and technologies but from the ease and speed with which companies are able to deploy services and begin capitalizing on their efficiencies. One of the strongest showings among Web services platforms is Iona Technologies' Orbix E2A Web Services Integration Platform, XMLBus Edition 5.0.
Iona made a name for itself with mainframe integration and CORBA middleware solutions during the past decade. XMLBus 5.0 is the latest edition of its recently rebranded e-business framework, Orbix E2A (end-to-anywhere).
XMLBus delivers a Java-based technology framework for developing, deploying, monitoring, and managing Web services based on applications from a broad variety of platforms, including J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition), CORBA, Microsoft .Net, and J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition). Impressively, the platform sports a solid business-process modeling engine, allowing companies to graphically compose complex workflows using componentized Web services, improving flexibility and garnering cost savings through ready code reuse.
XMLBus 5.0 lacks the enterprise-strength adapters and strong authentication found in Iona's more advanced Collaborate Edition, as well as some of the amenities for XML and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration) registry manipulation offered in competitive frameworks such as CapeConnect from Cape Clear. Nevertheless, it is well-suited to projects in which assimilating customized standards and applications will not be an inhibiting factor. With features such as wizard-driven development, real-time testing, debugging, and monitoring tools, as well as container-based hot-deployment of Web services for uninterrupted performance, XMLBus lays the groundwork for a quick ramp up of Web services efforts in the enterprise, warranting our highest rating of Deploy.
We installed and configured the myriad XMLBus components quite easily, including the Web services engine, the SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) Message Spy, and the Process Engine, with only minor tweaking of our environment.
The Web services engine, responsible for validating and brokering SOAP-based communications, employs a container-based approach to services management. The container holds the Web services archive packages containing everything necessary for deployment, including SOAP and endpoint configurations, WSDL (Web Services Description Language) references, EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans) references, and Java classes. The archive mechanism isolates much of the underlying run-time intricacies and affords good centralized administration.
The stand-alone version of XMLBus includes the Tomcat JSP (Java Server Pages) and Jakarta Project servlet engine; deploying EJB-based services requires an additional, J2EE-compliant application server such as BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, or Iona's own iPortal Application Server. But the setup routine installs the Web service container directly to the application server during installation, so EJB deployment takes little extra effort.
XMLBus's graphical, wizard-driven development and testing tools proved top-notch, and we were able to quickly package our archive files and deploy them to the Web services container. The XMLBus Builder application can create interface specifications from Java classes, EJBs, and CORBA objects and can generate skeleton code from WSDL files.