New Web Services for MV

We have a new product that’s in a highly functional alpha status and I’d like to enter into discussions with people to discuss required features. In short, this allows BASIC subroutines to quickly render as Web Services for inbound requests from trading partners. It’s primarily an end-user product but of course VARs are welcome to offer this as a value-add extension to their applications for existing sites and to attract new sales.

The need for data exchanges among trading partners is obvious. Customers want to get order status and product data from their MV-based vendors. Many MV-based end-users want their vendors to provide updates of shipments and pricing changes directly into their application. To solve the problem, a lot of MV-based companies use FTP exchanges of delimited files. Or they’re using telephone, fax, or email exchanges with spreadsheets – and lots of manual data entry.

Web Services are the modern answer to those problems. This offering allows the MV end-user to publish the services they want to offer to their trading partners, and other companies will create their own client interfaces to make use of the services. The MV developer doesn’t need to know about XML, SOAP, WSDL, or any other languages to use it.

Back in 2003 I wrote a series of articles on the topic for Spectrum Magazine because hardly anyone knew what a Web Service was. These days, examples of Web Services are everywhere, and they’re at the foundation of Ajax, Web2.0, Software As A Service (SAAS), the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and other globally accepted software deployment paradigms, so I don’t feel a need to try to “sell” that concept anymore. There are any number of practical applications for Web Services and much more to the concept than I will go into in this blog entry. What’s important for our purposes is that now, by making it easy to create Web Services, this product will help companies to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and improve their standing with their own customers and vendors. I encourage VARs to take interest in this, as there is money to be made by helping others to save time and money.

We see many MV developers these days struggling with various technologies to implement their own solutions and it was obvious that something better was necessary. This product has been designed for companies who already understand the concepts, perhaps they’ve already experienced the pain, and they’re looking for solutions to facilitate implementation. I’d like to talk with IT Management people (and their vendors) about the requests they get from trading partners, the methods they’ve used so far for implementation, and their plans for web-based interfaces. My goal is to make sure this product will help them to more easily respond to common challenges.

Over time I will help our clients and prospects to realize how much they can do with Web Services, beyond the basics. Pick / MultiValue business applications can get a completely new life if re-deployed with a Service-Oriented Architecture (in addition to the current traditional deployment methods of course) – and this product will help with that. For that initiative, I’m looking for application developers who are motivated to approach new audiences beyond the traditional end-user site where you install the software and everyone gets in with telnet. Note that I’m looking for two discussions – one with people about how this product should work, and another with the same or different people about what can be done with it.

So please e-mail me if you work for an end-user site and you need to communicate with trading partners, or if you sell business software and you have end-users who can use this functionality. If you don’t think your end-users can use Web Services, perhaps we should collaborate to talk with them about their needs. In my experience, the VARs that think their clients don’t need functionality like this are the same VARs who lose their clients to other platforms. Let’s try to turn that around.

I’m posting more details about this product as time permits. For now, I need to go bang out some code.

1 thought on “New Web Services for MV

    • The hardest part of the whole web services implementation is “selling” it to business partners. In our case, the chief contacts are not IT related and don’t even know who to refer you to. When you do manage to get someone that is involved with the systems on the other side, their level of expertise is not high enough to know what can and can’t be done with their own system. It’s often pointless trying to sell it to the IT side anyway because their hands are tied.

      Battling upper management (CEO/CFO/CIO) may be the only way to sell a free solution and get an integration started. I’ve not tried that approach yet, but it’s something I’m considering. The largest hurdles to overcome are the “no one else is doing it with us, so it’s a waste of our time” and “we already invested a lot in EDI, so we don’t want to waste time and money on WS” arguments. A free/low-fee transaction broker/translation service would be ideal in the latter case. Don’t make everyone move to a different service or schema, just translate it and pass it on transparently to the related party. I’m not sure how much of that is being done currently and what type of data security and privacy regulations would get in the way.


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