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Making Web 2.0 business opportunities a reality

The brave new Web is no longer simply about moving data. Creativity and versatility are the order of the day for any business that wants to take full advantage of the medium’s capabilities.

The transition from browser-driven web of documents known as Web 1.0 to the executable web of loosely coupled services and semantic content known as Web 2.0 brought with it numerous opportunities—and challenges. e-Business, e-commerce, search, and the Web itself are each becoming platforms in their own rights. Yesterday’s challenge of producing elegant and database-driven Web sites is being replaced by the need to create Web 2.0 “points of presence” that incorporate capabilities and features such as service data junction boxes, execution endpoints, service bus stops, semantic content production and syndication, and conventional Web pages dispatch.

However, in order to truly realize the inherent benefits of Web 2.0, organizations need to have technology in place that enables them to exploit the power of XML and Web Services without disrupting their existing IT infrastructure.

In addition, organizations need to invest in a technology—such as enterprise data integration, service composition and business process management—that transcends prevalent enterprise challenge areas organizations face when trying to capitalize on Web 2.0, while still facilitating the development and deployment of the next generation of enterprise-wide, Internet, Intranet, and extranet-based solutions.

In evaluating technology to support Web 2.0 initiatives, there are several attributes and features that an organization should look for. First, the solution should be platform-independent and standards-based. By choosing a multi-protocol, cross-platform, database and programming language-independent server solution, an organization protects itself from being restricted to deploy only certain applications—or worse, being required to revamp an entire infrastructure. Standards compliance ensures that a company can retain the freedom to mix and match best-of-class combinations of existing and future operating systems, programming environments, database engines and data-access middleware that best supports its needs in relation to Web 2.0 initiatives.

In addition, an ideal solution incorporates all aspects required for Web 2.0 execution, such as application development, systems integration and enterprise architecture assembly—essentially making up what can be defined as a universal server.

For example, the ideal solution should incorporate traditionally distinct server features in a single server solution, including: a Web services platform, object-relational database (e.g., SQL and XML), replication server and Web application server, to name a few. By doing so, organizations never need to compromise the choice of their host operating system, database engine or program language—since everything is integrated into a single, platform-agnostic, standards-based solution that can support all of the functions required for Web 2.0 application deployment.

By taking advantage of a cross-platform and standards-compliant universal server, organizations are able to integrate the optimal combination of infrastructure components (such as databases and application development capabilities, and content management tools). As a result, organizations seeking to capitalize on the emerging event-driven and service-oriented executable Web are able to meet ever-evolving technical requirements without being locked into a platform, database engine or programming language.

By taking advantage of a universal server, companies can rapidly transform their current Web site to a syndicated content-subscription point, delivering content in popular XML formats such as RSS, ATOM and RDF and transform existing SQL or XML into any data representation format. In addition, organizations can expose or publish internal application functions as SOAP-, WSDL-, and UDDI- compliant Web Services.

By implementing multiple protocols in a single server solution, companies no longer have to take the costly approach of building an enterprise IS infrastructure with an ever-increasing pool of costly, disparate and protocol-specific servers. In addition, a single server solution implements many industry-standard protocols in tandem, delivering the widely varied services that emanate from these protocols in a single, multi-purpose and multi-protocol server, as opposed to multiple singe-purpose server offerings.

Further, Web services have evolved as the technology of choice for integration across disparate application within an enterprise, and are also used for exposing internal application logic for external consumption via the Web. With a standards-compliant universal server, companies are able to publish existing application logic modules as SOAP- and WSDL-compliant Web Services without re-writing existing code—which inevitably introduces new bugs and minimizes programming costs.

By taking advantage of a single server solution that addresses each of the key processes and integration issues associated with Web 2.0, organizations are able to cost effectively develop, integrate and deploy service-oriented and event-driven solutions. As a result, they are able to easily expose their offerings—and ultimately, value proposition—over the Web at a much more rapid rate than those organizations taking a best-of-breed approach. With a universal server in place – companies can be free of integration headaches—and can focus on making Web 2.0 business opportunities a reality.

Kingsley Idehen founded OpenLink Software in 1992 and has served as the company’s CEO and CTO since then.

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