Rich Bonneau and I taught the inagural Web services training class — fittingly enough in Wasington, DC March 9. The feedback was all very, very positive, and encouraging for the next scheduled courses.
A version of the course has been given at Comdex last year, and was also well received. Recently we won an RFP to provide Web services training for Lockheed Martin.
The training course, like my best-selling book, is technology training, not product training.
While it’s true that IONA sells what Garter calls a “multi-protocol Enterprise Service Bus” based on Web services, we also recognize the need for generic technical training. Knowing the standards and the specifications has a lot of intrinsic value.
Many companies promote Web services in the context of their existing products. We of course also do this since we offer Web services interfaces for our Orbix product line in addition to the Web-services based Artix product line.
But it’s very important to understand Web services as a technology in its own right. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken with who simply adapt what they know about another technology, and consider that sufficient. But it isn’t. Web services exist because they are different, and have unique characteristics.
One of the most important considerations in Web services is XML. All of the Web services specifications are applications of XML – meaning they are written in XML, and define how to use XML to accomplish a specific purpose. Whether it’s how to format a message, how to define the network address of a message, or how to report an error. All of this is done using XML, which means understanding how XML works is fundamental to understanding Web services.
Beyond the basics, one of the questions we often get is: What’s going on with industry efforts to standardize security, reliability, and transactions? Why is it taking so long, and how come there are so many, sometimes competing specifications?
Today we have groups of vendors and standards bodies pursuing competing proposals instead of finding ways everyone can work together to create a comprehensive set of standards on which everyone can agree, and on which a single, big market can be created we can all compete for a piece of.
A colleague of mine once remarked that of all major industries, software is alone in not having an industry association. Where indeed is the software industry association? Who is looking out for the overall health of the industry?
Today in software products we have the features and functionality we need. Does we really need a new database management system? A new application server? A new word processing application? A new operating system?
Or does the world need standards-based, commoditized versions of all these things? And for system software, how about standard APIs and protocols? I mean really standard, so that products can be evaluated not on the basis of their differentiating features and functionality, but on how well they implement a given set of standards?
I think the world needs this big, unified software market where all of us software vendors can compete on the basis of who has the best implementation, rather than fighting for position to see who controls which specification.
For the higher level features and functions we need the same kind of industry-wide agreement we achieved with the basic specifications — SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI. Then generic, technology training will be all that’s really required.
Well, I can dream, can’t I?!?
Anyway, in the meantime, come on out and take one of our classes, and start learning the technology. With any luck, that’s the only kind of training anyone will (someday) really need…;-)