BEA's Adam Bosworth, chief architect and senior vice president of advanced development at the San Jose, Calif.-based company, said enterprises are dealing with hundreds or even thousands of applications that have difficulty communicating with each other. "A very large number of applications have been built, and unfortunately, the people who built them are long gone," Bosworth said.
Integration, he said, requires three phases: integrating the UI, integrating data, and integrating business processes. "This little problem, succinctly put, is you're being asked to do three things simultaneously" that cannot be done, said Bosworth.
"We have to change the applications more rapidly, we can bring them down less and less and we have fewer developers to do it. This represents a bit of a challenge," he added.
Standardization and flexible, service-oriented architectures are needed to address pressing integration issues, according to Bosworth. "The issue is, if you want an architecture that's going to work, it has to work even when the implementation's changing," he said. He cited the Cullinet database as an example of a formerly industry-leading technology that faded away because it did not adapt to changing technology conditions.
He also cited instances of customers having problems using new technologies and moving 2,000 to 3,000 messages per second in their backbones and enterprises universally needing to run multiple OSes. "BEA has made a bet; the bet was that Web services are, if you will, the unlocking key for integration in the face of these realities," Bosworth said.
BEA, he said, has devised three principles pertaining to application loads: coarse-grained computing is needed to provide for a single trip to a database for each transaction, loose coupling enables interlinked applications to be changed without breaking the architecture, and asynchronous communications provides for delivery.
"There's a solution for this and it's called messaging," Bosworth said, adding that the idea behind Web services was messages could be sent with some degree of latency. "I have been surprised by how slow some companies have been to pick up on asynchrony as a core part of Web services," said Bosworth.
BEA will invest in the area of message management and message brokering in an upcoming release of its platform, he said.
He cited the recently proposed WS-Addressing specification as containing a core model for asynchronous messaging. Web services provide a model for coarse-grained communications, he said, but the key behind Web services is loose coupling. Additionally, Web services offer at least a standard way of communications between applications.