New Development Tools for Web Services Help to Facilitate Secure, Integrated Systems

REDMOND, Wash, May 24, 2004 — Even the most routine surgeries can be complex, involved procedures. Equally complex is the task of managing the vast amount of patient data and research information that results from the work and research at a medical facility. Finding better ways to manage information means that medical staff can spend less time doing paperwork, and more time practicing medicine.

Officials at Ohio State University Medical Center recently sought to improve upon their operating room procedures and simplify day-to-day routines at the center’s more than 50 operating rooms. They called upon Professor Farrukh Khan and his team of graduate students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to develop a solution. By harnessing the power of Microsoft’s Web Services Enhancements version 2.0 (WSE) for Microsoft .NET, Professor Khan and his team were able to securely and efficiently expose information for access by desktop and smart device-based applications. The new system, dubbed Operating Room-Eye (OR-Eye), allows authorized users to securely, remotely and in real-time monitor, record and replay vital signs data generated in operating rooms and intensive care units.

WSE is a key element of Microsoft’s Web services strategy that can simplify the development of secure Web services that span organizational boundaries and trust domains. Professor Khan says OSU could not have created OR-Eye as easily, or as efficiently, without Microsoft’s latest Web services improvements.

“We saved a great deal of time using WSE 2.0 because it allowed our team to zero in on the solution’s business logic instead of focusing the majority of our development efforts on security,” Khan says. “To give you a sense of this, we had previously created a Web services solution without the benefit of WSE, which required us to spend about 80 percent of the development time writing security related code. It took us two years to build the security system for that project. With WSE 2.0 we could have completed the security system in four months. Using Microsoft .NET and WSE 2.0 on the OR-Eye solutions, we spent only 2 to 4 percent of the development time creating security-related code.”

A supported add-in to Visual Studio .NET, WSE 2.0 provides developers with the tools to create secure Web services using the latest protocol specifications, including the recently ratified Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) standard for WS-Security. The end result for the OSU Medical Center is that the use of WSE 2.0 has helped to make the hospital’s patients’ experiences a little more pleasant and the process much easier on hospital personnel.

Information Bridge Framework Brings Web Services to Office

WSE 2.0 works in concert with another new addition to Microsoft’s Web services offering, Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework 1.0. Information Bridge Framework is an integrated set of tools that uses eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and Web services to enable information workers to view and act on enterprise business data from within familiar Microsoft Office System programs.

The Information Bridge architecture enables in-house developers and IT staff to build solutions that provide information workers with access to data such as sales numbers, inventory figures, customer information and other business data via Web services. This information can be viewed directly within the 2003 versions of Word, Excel or Outlook. In addition, ISV partners can extend their products to Microsoft Office System by exposing them as Web services that can be consumed by Information Bridge Framework. This enables them to expand the footprint of their solutions within an enterprise and make their products more valuable and strategic to customers.

Khan eagerly awaits the InfoPath support that is planned for Information Bridge Framework’s next release this fall. He expects Information Bridge Framework will make it even easier to develop electronic forms critical to hospitals, making information gathering much more accurate and efficient. “With these technologies, OSU has the tools to build a system that is agile and flexible and can accommodate the rapid changes in the medical field and continue creating the critical applications that hospitals need to function,” Khan says. “Web services are a great fit for the hospital environment, and they have the promise to bring substantial benefits to a wide range of other important industries.”

Industry Partners See Success in Microsoft’s Commitment to Web Services

Khan’s team at OSU represents a rapidly growing number of development teams using Web services on .NET to build secure, connected systems. “A number of years ago, Microsoft made the commitment to support Web services throughout our products,” says Rebecca Dias, product manager for Web services. “Web Services Enhancements 2.0 and Information Bridge Framework are great examples of how Microsoft continues to innovate in the Web services space by creating new tools and technologies to help developers and IT professionals employ Web services across the organization.”

Using WSE 2.0, Hewlett-Packard built a centrally hosted, globally accessible suite of secure services in only 8 weeks that can be used by HP Web storefronts and business systems around the world. Dubbed Global Gateway Services, the new solution uses advanced support for Web services and business process management provided by Microsoft .NET technologies and BizTalk Server 2004. Through the use of the WSE Adapter, customers are able to build service oriented applications that incorporate secure Web services and aggregate these Web services within a business process.

HP company officials report that the service-oriented approach to data processing is yielding faster time-to-market, economies of scale for service fees, standardized security and improved profitability. Prior to this solution, Web storefronts and line-of-business systems that required external data processing had to be independently integrated with third-party service providers.

“We needed a solution that was centrally hosted, globally accessible and easily integrated with Web storefronts and business systems running on a broad range of platforms. With Web services, we were able to integrate with each external data processing service once and expose that code to multiple storefronts and enterprise resource planning systems for reuse through a secure, standards-based interface,” said Reza Wajih, Manager of the Core E-Commerce Services team within Global Operations E-Business IT group at Hewlett-Packard. “This reduces the effort required to integrate third-party services into other systems by roughly two-thirds, resulting in faster time-to-market and lower development costs for new Web storefronts and other applications. Web Services Enhancements 2.0, with rich support for Web services security specifications, enabled us to develop and implement more easily and quickly a secure Web services solution that addressed our needs.”

EDGAR Online Inc., which provides direct access to financial information on more than 12,000 public companies, is using WSE 2.0 and a tool from Microsoft to create and consume XBRL — an open, XML industry standard language desiged as a means for companies to report financial data — to transmit XBRL financial statement data from EDGAR Online’s subscription financial analysis service, EDGAR Online Pro, to Excel 2003. This allows investors and analysts to use EDGAR Online’s financial information for analysis directly on their desktop.

Traditionally, corporate financial reporting is a labor-intensive process involving the compilation of data from a variety of sources and formats. XBRL allows companies to report financial data in a format that is ready for the Web or for import into other applications. Companies stand to save significant amounts of time and money using the XBRL standard to publish their financial statements automatically in one document that has multiple uses, instead of manually creating separate documents for each format.

“With WSE 2.0, there is specific support for asynchronous documents, which need to be built and generated. If we think about the end-user in this scenario, there is the potential for thousands of analysts and others in the financial community to save countless hours by allowing them to open up Excel, click on a tool and, via Web Services, obtain the financial data they need,” says Stefan Chopin, chief technology officer for EDGAR Online.

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