Iona hails Web services

Iona Technologies is realigning itself around Web services integration, offering one of the strongest signs that the technology...

Iona Technologies is realigning itself around Web services integration, offering one of the strongest signs that the technology is finally becoming a reality.

Standards-based heterogeneous Web services technologies represent a fundamental shift in the IT industry, said Iona chief executive Barry Morris.

Commenting on the ability of Web services to break down traditional vendor power bases around proprietary solutions, Morris said: "Web services is the equivalent of TCP/IP in that context."

As previously reported, Iona has realigned its products around Web services integration and application servers.

To that end, the company unveiled its standards-based Orbix E2A (End To Anywhere) platform, claiming it is the first Web services integration platform not to treat Web services as an additional feature. The product includes business-to-business, enterprise integration and application development functionality.

Iona's partners and customers, including Microsoft, Nordstrom.com, Zurich Insurance, BroadVision, HotJobs.com, PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, IT integrator Science Applications International (SAIC) and Gartner, said they would back the strategy.

Paul Onnen, Nordstrom's chief technology officer, said the company's online sales outlet has gained tangible benefits from using Iona's Web services technology. The technology "allows us to only show the products that are actually available for sale," said Onnen.

Orbix E2A has enabled Nordstrom to provide a single interface to different divisions inside the company, he added.

Nordstrom no longer relies on outside help from systems integrators for enterprise application integration. The result is some of Nordstrom's 75 IT staff have been redeployed to other areas of the company, and IT staff levels have not grown, despite more than 300% growth in online sales since last year, said Onnen.

One of the integrators affected by the Web services business model is KPMG. However, KPMG vice-president David Sanders said he is not worried about the prospect that customers will no longer need the company's integration services. "I don't have a problem with the [Web services] concept, because there are plenty of other customers out there who are not where Nordstrom is," he said.

Charles Fitzgerald, general manager of Microsoft's .Net platform strategy, backed Iona's increased focus on Web services. "We think of Web services as the way you build applications for the 21st century," he said.

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