Sunday, October 05, 2003

You're going to hate them ... and then it gets good. Web services, that is.

"Web services comes along and it's changing all the rules," he said. "The good organizations move on it. Jump in feet first. You're going to get wet. You're going to make mistakes. It's going to be rough. You're going to hate it. And then it will become good. It was tough, and we got through it. The payoff has been astronomical, and it has been worth every minute of stress." So says Bill Kannberg, Hillsborough county's CTO in an article in GovTech magazine ... is it me or do we just not have magazines like this in the UK? Another quotee mentions the joys of integrating with some "god-awful legacy VAX thing" ... for a while I ran the largest VAX cluster outside of DEC's own campuses, but I don't remember them being god-awful and, of course, legacy in hindsight but state of the art at the time. The article covers several projects across the USA where new services are being built by integrating disparate systems - from identity management to allow remote login, to reports on who has registered for a certain school to the big one: Web services carry the load behind the scenes, allowing GeorgiaNet staff to expose the functionality of legacy systems to public Web sites as a SOAP service, said Jan Sorensen, principal software developer for GeorgiaNet. For instance, the state's online driver's license renewal application communicates with the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety (DMVS) mainframe via SOAP. A connector toolkit was used to expose functions performed by the DMVS mainframe as a Web Service. So when citizens renew a driver's license, the DMVS mainframe is queried to make sure those citizens are allowed to renew their licenses online. The state also uses SOAP to authorize credit card payments submitted to the state's payment engine, Sorensen said. Exposing credit card authorization as a Web Service will allow the state to centralize payment processing. But, beware: "We brought down a mainframe," Sorensen said, noting that legacy systems usually must undergo some preparation to handle the additional queries. "That's definitely a problem because those systems aren't designed to have that kind of load. Instead of batch processes, we have citizens hitting the same processes or same services."

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