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Son, We Aren't in the '30s Anymore

Son, We Aren't in the '30s Anymore

In my teens I was an avid reader of Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books. You may be familiar with the TV series also. Last week my mom, who is visiting us here in the U.S., made an interesting observation when she was going through one of Gardner's books. She said: "You know, Paul Drake [the detective] always used to go to a public telephone booth to make a call to Perry. When you called me from your mobile phone, it occurred to me that in today's world, Paul would be in a car or on a bus or train and making that same call from a cell phone."

Even if Gardner had created Mason 10 years ago, this would still be the case. If you think about it, technology has made mind-boggling advancements in the last decade. You can talk to people almost anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. Look at Mission Impossible in contrast to Perry Mason's escapades. Furthermore, recent developments in technology have taken business beyond just verbal communication between folks. Now you can take part in actual business transactions through computer-based products across disparate geographical locations and various business environments. Yes, e-commerce has come a long way.

Back to XML
Though new to the computing industry, XML is way past infancy and is an essential part of computing in the enterprise. The economy may go through its highs and lows, but computer-based applications are an inevitable part of current and future evolutions in human interaction. Business models will fail and succeed, but technology will continue to prove itself through these natural cycles. And XML is a critical part of this technology.

XML is also the key enabler for the technology base that will enable the new class of business applications: Web services. Web services today are at the stage XML was at a few years ago. For XML, SGML was a proven, stable, mature technology that provided the technology base. Now it's time for XML to offer the technology base that enables the next level of business application development. Web services use XML as the base for service definition and data interchange. XML-based enterprise applications utilize industry-specific XML formats for specific business models. They offer a mechanism for distributed businesses to collaborate in a single business process.

The Next Operating System?
Computer environments have been evolving rapidly to enable business applications to be implemented across a variety of hardware and software environments. When operating systems were defined for different hardware platforms, porting involved a complete rewrite of the application. The only thing in common between disparate platforms was the programming language, and in many cases even this wasn't true.

As app servers appeared on the horizon, portability across hardware platforms became feasible; however, computing languages and operating systems remain incompatible. For example, you can write a Windows (-specific) application in a variety of languages. Or you can write a Java application on a variety of platforms. XML forms the next layer of abstraction, where each module in a distributed business process may utilize its own hardware/software environment, but the data formats exchanged and presented between these modules is in a ubiquitous format. Web services take this to the next level.

Exposing an application's functionality as Web services allows applications to publish behavior and functionality across decoupled hardware/software environments. In that sense they form the "operating system of business processes."

In This Issue...
Our theme this month is Web services. You'll find insightful articles on the latest developments in this new technology as well as introductions to its components. As you may know, SYS-CON will soon publish a journal focusing exclusively on Web services.

The newest member of our XML-J editorial board is John Evdemon, CTO of XML/director of engineering at Vitria (www.vitria.com), a leading integration and B2B server provider.

More Stories By Ajit Sagar

Ajit Sagar is Associate VP, Digital Transformation Practice at Infosys Limited. A seasoned IT executive with 20+ years experience across various facts of the industry including consulting, business development, architecture and design he is architecture consulting and delivery lead for Infosys's Digital Transformation practice. He was also the Founding Editor of XML Journal and Chief Editor of Java Developer's Journal.

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