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IT Uses Web Services to Expose Apps to Outsiders

Technology eases sharing of data beyond firewalls

By Heather Havenstein
January 9, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld -

Web services will aid D.C. area emergency workers.
Web services will aid D.C. area emergency workers.
Image Credit: The Associated Press
Buoyed by the opportunity to easily and safely share data with customers and partners, IT organizations are increasingly exposing internal applications and data outside their corporate firewalls as Web services.
The District of Columbia, for example, on March 1 will go live with a new system that uses Web services to help emergency command centers in Washington and surrounding areas coordinate responses in the event of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
The CapStat system is being built on a service-oriented architecture that uses Web services to allow command centers in five jurisdictions in Washington, Virginia and Maryland to exchange essential information.
The centers will share data such as citizen reports of power outages, updated inventories of emergency response vehicles and the locations of people reporting suspicious disease symptoms.
Currently, emergency management officials in the Washington area communicate via telephone to share such information during a crisis, said Dan Thomas, who oversees the CapStat program. Thomas is also director of the DCStat program in the district's Office of the Chief Technology Officer.
The separate DCStat program uses Web services to monitor the delivery of municipal services.
Funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CapStat relies on an SOA foundation to overcome system and data incompatibility problems associated with retrieving and sharing disparate data, Thomas said.
CapStat uses Sonic Software Corp.'s enterprise service bus (ESB) technology to link the command centers and to publish and consume Web services, Thomas said. Thus, partners can share and consume data without having to alter existing systems, he added.
"The SOA model's loose coupling between services is the only practical way to implement and administer CapStat's distributed architecture," Thomas said. "[The ESB] traverses firewalls, routers and other network boundaries between partner organizations to create a shared message channel that is both secure and reliable."

Automatic Data Processing Inc. in Roseland, N.J., is rewriting all of the applications in its payroll and human resources arm as Web services that can be exposed to clients, said James Barry, ADP's vice president of application development. Barry declined to detail how many of the hundreds of applications have already been exposed as Web services, but he said that ADP is "far along" in its effort.
For example, employees at a large New York-based investment bank can already access payroll information from ADP as Web services on the bank's intranet, without having to sign on to ADP's Web site, Barry said.
Web services are also making it easier for ADP to import and export data


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