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Last modified: January 22, 2009
XML Daily Newslink. Thursday, 22 January 2009

A Cover Pages Publication
Provided by OASIS and Sponsor Members
Edited by Robin Cover

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Software as a Service: Build a Web-delivered SaaS Framework for Forms and Workflow-Driven Applications
Tamer Nassar and Murali Vridhachalam, IBM developerWorks

Software as a service (SaaS), largely enabled by the Internet and corporate intranets, has become an innovative, cost-efficient way for enterprises to do business. Many people predict that SaaS will grow much faster within corporate intranets. Companies can reduce costs by providing SaaS frameworks rather than traditional infrastructure-based applications. This article describes how a team built a Web-delivered SaaS framework to host various applications, from different business domains, that are forms and workflow driven. Before an application (or tenant) can be added to the deployed SaaS framework, it has to be designed and implemented following technical guidelines published by the SaaS framework provider. The example shows how you can use the SaaS paradigm to transform businesses to be more cost effective and services-centric. From a technical perspective, the main benefit of this solution is that no code changes are required to the SaaS framework when new tenants are added. In this article, the terms tenant and application are used interchangeably... SaaS adoption is growing rapidly worldwide. In this article, you learned how products from IBM's enterprise software portfolio can be used to build a robust SaaS framework that is extensible, secure, and scalable.

Apache AXIOM (AXIs Object Model) Version 1.2.8 Released
Apache Axiom Team, Software Announcement

Members of the Apache Axiom development team announced the version 1.2.8 release of Apache AXIOM, a StAX-based, XML Infoset compliant object model which supports on-demand building of the object tree. Initially developed as part of Apache Axis2, Apache AXIOM is the core of Apache Axis2. However, it is a pure standalone XML Infoset model with novel features and can be used independently of Apache Axis2. Apache Axis2/C "is a Web services engine implemented in the C programming language. It is based on the extensible and flexible Axis2 architecture. Apache Axis2/C can be used to provide and consume WebServices. It has been implemented with portability and ability to embed in mind, hence could be used as a Web services enabler in other software. Apache Axis2/C supports SOAP 1.1 and SOAP 1.2, as well as REST style of Webservices. A single service could be exposed both as a SOAP style as well as a REST style service simultaneously. It also has built in MTOM support, that can be used to exchange binary data." Apache AXIOM Version 1.2.8 supports a novel "pull-through" model which allows one to turn off the tree building and directly access the underlying pull event stream. It also has built-in support for XML Optimized Packaging (XOP) and MTOM, the combination of which allows XML to carry binary data efficiently and in a transparent manner. The combination of these results in a easy to use API with a very highly performant architecture.

See also: the Apache Axiom web site

Recharter of IETF Network Configuration (NETCONF) Working Group
Internet Engineering Steering Group, Announcement

The IESG (Internet Engineering Steering Group) announced the publication of a new draft charter for the IETF Network Configuration (NETCONF) Working Group in the Operations and Management Area. Excerpts: "Configuration of networks of devices has become a critical requirement for operators in today's highly interoperable networks. Operators from large to small have developed their own mechanisms or used vendor specific mechanisms to transfer configuration data to and from a device, and for examining device state information which may impact the configuration. Each of these mechanisms may be different in various aspects, such as session establishment, user authentication, configuration data exchange, and error responses... The NETCONF protocol is using XML for data encoding purposes, because XML is a widely deployed standard which is supported by a large number of applications. The NETCONF protocol should be independent of the data definition language and data models used to describe configuration and state data. However, the authorization model used in the protocol is dependent on the data model. Although these issues must be fully addressed to develop standard data models, only a small part of this work will be initially addressed. This group will specify requirements for standard data models in order to fully support the NETCONF protocol, such as: (1) identification of principals, such as user names or distinguished names; (2) mechanism to distinguish configuration from non-configuration data; (3) XML namespace conventions; (4) XML usage guidelines. The initial work started in 2003 and has already been completed and was restricted to following items: (a) NETCONF Protocol Specification, which defines the operational model, protocol operations, transaction model, data model requirements, security requirements, and transport layer requirements. (b) NETCONF over SSH Specification: Implementation Mandatory, (c) NETCONF over BEEP Specification: Implementation Optional, (d) NETCONF over SOAP Specification: Implementation Optional... Currently the NETCONF protocol is able to advertise which protocol features are supported on a particular netconf-capable device. However, there is currently no way to discover which XML Schema are supported on the device. The NETCONF working group will produce a standards-track RFC with mechanisms making this discovery possible (this item may be merged with "NETCONF monitoring" into a single document)... [Update 2009-02-03: The IESG Secretary announced that the IETF NETCONF working group was rechartered.]

TRANSCOM Begins Transition to SOA
Brian Robinson, Defense Systems

The U.S. Transportation Command has begun the rollout of a five-year program that will transform it from an organization dependent on old and slow stovepiped systems and applications to one that uses single-click, Web-based enterprise services to get things done. At the end of last year Asynchrony Solutions Inc., which won a $14 million support services contract in July 2008, delivered the first element in a three-phase effort to build a services oriented architecture (SOA) that will form the backbone for USTRANSCOM's Corporate Services Vision (CSV). The ultimate goal is nothing less than a net-centric driven revolution in the way the military provides resources to its warfighters around the globe. Net-centricity has been a goal for the past eight years, said Robert Osborne, USTRANSCOM's deputy director for portfolio management, command, control, communications and computer systems... There are multiple systems that users now need to get data into and out of to order equipment or parts or to schedule troop transportation, and to track the progress of all of that. Many of the systems and applications are incompatible with each other. That complicated IT infrastructure will go away once the CSV is realized. Users will log in to one Web site, type in their requirements, and then click to send that request out. All of the to-and-fro between different systems disappears because of the SOA, which integrates all of those legacy systems and applications along with new capabilities into an enterprise architecture that is transparent to the user...

SOA Contract Maturity Model
Abel Avram and Kjell-Sverre Jerijaervi, InfoQueue

Kjell-Sverre Jerijaervi has presented enough detail in Microsoft's SOA Maturity Model (SOAMM) that it can be used to evaluate the maturity of a SOA implementation. SOAMM has four levels of increasing maturity, and each level is evaluated considering the following three perspectives: (1) Service Implementation: This model perspective describes capabilities of an enterprise to implement efficient best practices, patterns in building and providing services. Achieving this capability strengthens and optimizes the design and development of enterprise business and system services. (2) Service Consumption: This model perspective describes capabilities of an enterprise to effectively adopt and promote use of services. This capability provides foundation for support and enhancement the consumption of enterprise services by others. (3) Service Administration: This model perspective describes capabilities of an enterprise to support the cross-organization governance and operational aspects of services... SOAMM consists of 36 technology-independent capabilities and serves as the guide for what is possible and what is required of your IT systems to realize the value of a service-oriented approach. The model was developed in conjunction with Microsoft product teams, technical evangelists, and our customers, and is based on our global best practices... the aspects of contract versioning and composability cover the full spectrum of SOA maturity levels. There is, however, no need to do a big bang approach and try to cover all the different capabilities at once—start small at Basic and aim to become Standardized as your number of services grows. This should concur with the need for SOA governance; in fact design-time governance is needed to enforce standardized services. As your services become widely popular and heavily shared by a multitude of consumers, you will need to implement some Advanced maturity level capabilities such as versioning and deployment management to do professional service lifecycle management. As your maturity evolves, you may end up at the Dynamic maturity level, being able to support the promised service reuse and business agility -- reaching the renowned benefits of SOA.

See also: the main article

Sun's Open Source Curing Health Care Woes
Bill Vass, Blog

The key to any eHealth reform program (no matter the price tag) is to facilitate information sharing across multiple agencies and to eliminate the information silos that exist today, allow the government to reduce costs and errors and to better serve our veterans, senior citizens and disabled... Once again, an open source pilot, which has been built and tested without a dollar of government expenditure spent on software, has done what proprietary solutions have not. Open source has enabled the secure and interoperable exchange of health care information across more than 20 organizations. So, here is the background: If the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) is the information highway for health data exchange, CONNECT is the universal on-ramp for federal agencies. CONNECT is a software solution that lets federal agencies securely link their existing systems to the NHIN. More than 20 organizations collaborated to build CONNECT through the Federal Health Architecture (FHA), and as a result, agencies are heading down the road toward interoperability. Using Sun's entire Open Source middleware stack as its foundation, including our SOA and IdM technology, the FHA built the CONNECT gateway software from open-source code... We are happy to say that CONNECT Gateway will be made available to the public in March of 2009. Three primary elements make up the CONNECT Gateway: (1) The Core Services Gateway provides the ability to locate patients at other health organizations within the NHIN, request and receive documents associated with the patient, and record these transactions for subsequent auditing by patients and others. (2) The Enterprise Service Components, which provide default implementations of many critical enterprise components required to support electronic health information exchange, including a Master Patient Index (MPI), XDS.b Document Registry and Repository, Authorization Policy Engine, Consumer Preferences Manager, HIPAA-compliant Audit Log and others. Organizatons are able to use existing applications within the NHIN CONNECT Gateway and free to adopt the components or substitute their own implementations. (3) The Software Development Kit (SDK) enables agencies to develop adapter components that integrate their existing electronic health information systems with the NHIN Core Services Gateway...

See also: the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) web site

Adaptive User Interfaces for Health Care Applications
Krish Ramachandran, IBM developerWorks

Adaptive user interfaces assist users in accomplishing tasks in an application and construct a model of the user's preferences so as to serve them better in the future. Examples include systems that filter news stories, recommend products, and so on. This approach to personalized services is relatively new but has great potential for improving the effectiveness of human-computer interfaces. Health care is a significant area where adaptive user interfaces can be of great use. Health care users range from having little computer knowledge (for example, some nurses or doctors) to having expert computer knowledge (for example, system administrators). And, there can be many other distinguishing factors when it comes to patients. Therefore, adapting a computer application's interface to different types of users is important to improve the usability of such applications. Two major techniques used for adaptation are adaptive presentation and adaptive navigation. Adaptive presentation involves personalizing the contents presented to the user. Adaptive navigation involves customizing ways by which users complete their tasks in the application. These techniques can be used to enhance the usability of health care applications, thereby contributing to their success... Adaptive user interfaces also make it easier to comply with the changing rules and regulations around access control of information. They provide more flexibility to administrators in dealing with such changes. Such adaptive interfaces can be used in a wide range of domains and in a variety of applications. This article explores the two major techniques used to create adaptive interfaces and provides examples of each... Adaptive presentation assists in personalizing the contents to the user, and adaptive navigation guides the user through the tasks towards completion. Adaptive user interfaces would bring great value to the health care domain, as the knowledge of IT in health care is sometimes low. Such adaptations differ, based on the goals and business context, and would significantly improve the usability of health care applications.


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