The growth of open standards creates new opportunities for designers and developers of applications and services. By writing to Java application programming interfaces (APIs) rather than to operating system-specific APIs on the server, developers can greatly enhance the number of their perspective customers. By making its legacy data available via XML-based Web services, a business can greatly extend its reach to customers. The network economy is driving the evolution of e-business from rigid to flexible application design, from static to dynamic interaction between partners, and from technology integration to business integration.
The growth of a stack of XML standards from the transport layer all the way up the programming stack to the business application layer has immensely accelerated this trend. The work going on in the WWW Consortium with SOAP complements the XML infrastructure work being done by the ebXML consortium, which in turn supports industry domain standardization efforts being done by such industry standards groups as ACORD for the insurance industry and the Open Travel Alliance. It is presumed that these progressive trends will lead to the next generation of services available over the Internet, called as Web services.
A Web service is an encapsulated chunk of behavior and data that is self-contained and modular, self-describing using XML standards, programmatically and dynamically accessible over networks using standardized mechanisms, such as SOAP, and capable of being dynamically composed with other Web services. Web services will be available at many levels of granularity and will include such services as electronic payment, dynamic pricing, bill presentment and reconciliation, credit checking, freight forwarding and inventory management.
The originator of a Web service registers it with a broker, using a standardized XML-based language to describe and index the service, and an XML-based interface definition language to describe how to access the service. The broker will store this information in a registry. Potential users, such as human beings using browsers or application programs, of a service will query the broker to find the best match for their needs, and then dynamically bind to that provider. The broker will serve as a portal for registering and accessing such services.
The direction toward Web services will particularly help companies that are born on the Web, called as Net Generation companies, to become successful by allowing their services to be easily discovered worldwide and easily integrated with other services ranging in scale from other Net Generation companies to enterprise-scale services.
Two recent developments can be motivating factors towards the world of Web services in the near future:
1. Software companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Ariba and 32 others have announced the Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) initiative. UDDI defines a set of specifications enabling Web services and includes shared operation of a globally distributed set of synchronized UDDI registries for such services.
2. IBM and Microsoft have announced the Web Services Description Language (WSDL), a jointly developed specification that offers a common way to describe the capabilities of Web services.
By removing barriers to entry, Web services technologies such as UDDI and WSDL will enable Net Generation companies to quickly get to market with their offerings and generate sustainable profits and consistent growth. In the e-business world where multiple businesses and multiple marketplaces are trying to interact, a mechanism to locate software services and share those services must exist. The ability to find Web services is going to ease and speed e-business deployment, opening the door for the interoperability business desire.
Many companies are working together to make the Web services vision happen. There is a Web services toolkit that works with UDDI and WSDL. This toolkit also includes tools to create and publish Web services as well as copy of the WSDL specification. Thus the shift from tightly coupled applications to loosely coupled Web services will lead to another great increase in opportunity for those who develop and sell such services.
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