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Going Farther

All right, now the data format is settled. After several alpha and beta iterations of the DTD, business is booming. Now there are areas for reporting regional high school action and even an area strictly reserved for the lesser-followed sports such as professional Russian roulette, customized and monitored by world champion "Lucky" Davidson. So successful is the service, in fact, that the Bahamian backbone switches are overwhelmed. A fancy, feature-rich text solution is okay for messaging game scores and accounts, but when network vendors and platform-management companies are introduced into the mix for data replication, co-location, and automated failover recovery, something more serious is necessary.

The Microsoft entry into the fray of distributed enterprise transaction processing handles the disparate elements of Web services by building on the well-traveled ground of COM with a ".net" framework. To accommodate the generic, stateless nature of the Web while making sure that Windows continues to increase its proprietary hold over the back office (and let's not forget the immense base of Visual Basic developers), the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) has been introduced as a communication mechanism so that even Fortran can process your service calls, if that's what gets you going. Masquerading as yet another troublesome binary format, SOAP is actually a thin wrapper around XML. SOAP and ROPE (yes, SOAP and ROPE) provide the necessary extra level of performance.

At this point, no one has to manage servers or databases because of the intelligent architecture underlying Web services. A user making a request is automatically rerouted to the nearest data provider—and, except for regional sporting events, they all look the same. On the provider side, each of the major networks, sporting publications, and sports Web sites has automated the subscription process with a custom interface with its own branding. Finally, each of the sports venues has automated the submission of official accounts of events.

As I said at the beginning, Microsoft's is but one approach for linking disparate sources and sinks of information. Sun has an entry and IBM has an entry, as do all database vendors of any note. The culmination of all this effort is riches galore by cornering the sports reporting aggregation business. Managing the bets has not been necessary for some time. Automation from end to end allows our protagonists to subsist on worldwide targeted ad revenues and subscription fees from both data-providing venues and interface-providing Web sites.

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