WSOS tunes up services
Web Service Orchestration Server imposes reliability on the naturally unreliable realm of distributed Web services
WEB SERVICES AIM to reduce the complexity and cost of business processes automation. But using application components distributed beyond the control of any single IT department raises serious reliability concerns. Knowing that CTOs must better orchestrate BPM (business process management) in such environments, Collaxa brings to market WSOS (Web Service Orchestration Server).
WSOS provides mechanisms to control the sequencing and flow of Web services conversations by stitching ad hoc services together with underpinnings of reliability. WSOS establishes reliability by enabling recovery from failure and ensuring the safe completion of a business process by maintaining persistence, even when transactions are extended in time and involve multiple partners.
This Java-based solution has a limited choice of deployment platforms, and it lacks a mature product's amenities such as integrated business modeling tools. But WSOS earned a Consider rating for its strong management of the life cycle of distributed, asynchronous transactions. Also, it doesn't need to use private Web services networks such as those provided by Grand Central Communications and Flamenco Networks. WSOS takes a good first step in alleviating the requirements for integrating distributed business processes via Web services.
The run-time environment core of WSOS is the Orchestration Server, which provides an application server container that coordinates the ebb and flow of services interactions. Deployed to the container is Collaxa's ScenarioBeans, a JSP (JavaServer Pages)-like approach that has most everything a developer needs to model application communications via Web services.
Based on standards such as XML, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), WSDL (Web Services Description Language), and BTP (Business Transaction Protocol), ScenarioBeans contain business logic, deployment descriptors, and the elements necessary to make an application available as a Web service, including WSDL files and SOAP listeners. In all, with familiar programming constructs and new features such as hot deployable applications, WSOS offers the underpinnings for substantial time savings during development and deployment.
During setup, we found the installation to be somewhat unpolished and required a degree of preinstallation hand-tooling and modifying requisite components, namely our Oracle database and BEA WebLogic application server -- the only deployment configuration currently supported by the package. Although we would not classify any of the detailing as challenging, the installation process would benefit from a spit and shine.
When WSOS was installed, however, we found minimal challenges that would inhibit seasoned Java developers in getting started with the server. The Scenario class framework's customized tags provide readily recognizable constructs for carrying out tasks such as multiconditional branching, parallel processing, and time-out conditions.
WSOS impressively carried out its duties, including the marshalling and unmarshalling of SOAP transactions and resuming delayed transaction scenarios. Also, with the exception of a single transaction in which we purposely cancelled an active service, it provided a perfect audit trail throughout.
The WSOS transaction model is actually based internally on BTP, but it's not exposed to the developer's advantage in this release. Collaxa indicated its next iteration would better capitalize on this feature.