Taxes and the Wild Wooly World of Web services notwithstanding, my esteemed colleague in his post yesterday to this space failed to mention a crucial aspect in the adoption and development of Web services that is, understanding the complex web of interactions occurring amongst the disparate Web services that make up a impletransaction requested by a client.
To be sure, your basic StockQuote Web service is not a problem here, as its interactions are easily understood by a novice Web services developer. However, as the level of complexity increases through the encapsulation of function into reusable Web service components and through an increase in abstraction in the problem domain from the client perspective, the need for deeper understanding and analysis of the flow of data amongst the participating Web services becomes clear. For instance, consider the difference between a simple StockQuote Web service and the process of purchasing a share of that stock. The simple StockQuote Web service merely returns a value to the client retrieved from some data source. Purchasing that stock requires interactions with the broker, a cash account, the account tracking the purchased stock and a complex network of other services designed to ensure the fidelity and security of the transaction.
There is clearly a need to be able to visually inspect the myriad of interactions required for complex transactions and that is where the IBM Web Services Navigator and the Data Collector for IBM Web Services Navigator can help. The Data Collector plugs in to the Web services infrastructure to gather pertinent data about the SOAP transactions that occur on one or more application servers. That data is recorded into a log file that can be read and processed by the Web Services Navigator. The Web Services Navigator then analyses the data and displays it in a series of graphical views that allow the developer or system analyst to inspect the flows recorded as each transaction took place. The inspector can then use these views to look for architectural issues, performance bottlenecks, security problems and a host of other issues germane to complex environments.
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