Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Web Service: Analysis for the rest of us

What are web services? Answer: n. Web based application to application communication; programming or programmatic interfaces made available to cooperate with established software, programming languages, and integration requirements. Web services are a set of technologies designed to automate connections across applications and databases. Answer: v. to develop a set of technologies in order to bring web based applications and services to their full potential.

What that essentially means is that web services are technologies developed by programmers and developers to make existing software more efficient, provide fillers for gaps and bugs, and in its most evolved state, provide services not necessarily new to the industry but that are refined for independent use, are more affordable, and user friendly.

Some examples of web services available to all user types/groups:

Some examples of web service providers and vendors for business applications:

Web services are specifically designed to offer:

1. Flexibility
2. Customization
3. Convenience
4. Realistic data collecting (sales, media, CRM, and marketing)
5. Independence and alternative software solutions
6. Real time problem solving
7. Real time trouble shooting
8. Refinement and reinforcement for existing technology platforms (integration)
9. Enhanced usefulness and functionality of technology architecture
10. Encouragement and assistance in Many-to-Many requirements (i.e. open-source, P2P, B2B, B2C, etc.) in core developments
11. Compatibility catalysts for future software developments and demands

Sounds great, what’s the problem?

Bad technology investments and misunderstanding the step-by-step movement of IT developments that lead to bad investments, have served to create suspicion where “the next big thing is concerned” a situation of “One bad apple ruining the whole bunch”.

Another major problem area would be over complicating the explanations and descriptions of technology applications. Thereby, creating a “negative” language barrier that serves to redirect interest rather than inspire it.

In rare situations, some older but still used technologies will not allow for seamless integration or easy integrations and the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” thinking together can work against the web service flow.

Makes sense, what are some good solutions?

Where suspicion and bad judgments are concerned time is the only real remedy for healing lost ROI wounds. Implementing a lessoned learned approach to new IT investments that are placing real time supply together with real time demand. The key here is staying present and focused. The irony is that many of the investments that lost money in the last three years where not necessarily bad ideas but badly timed. Investing in a supply before there was a real and equal demand. At some point over the next 20 years all of these new developments are going to be relevant, the key is taking it step by step.

Where communication is concerned it’s ideal and necessary to bring computer talk back to a vernacular form through articles like this one and others, through user interaction with web services, media, and emedia support, streamlining shop talk in the information age should just be par for the course.

The reasoning; just like any other trade, there’s programmer talk, lawyer talk, doctor talk, it’s still very important to the world that serves to support these trades that every day language be applied or applicable when discussing it or referring to it. In some respects, web services like web log software (blogging) help in this area because they give users opportunities to actually learn while interacting with the service itself.

Finally, with regard to old technologies and a general stubborn streak to change, independent software developers (like the ones listed above for web service providers of business applications) may do a considerable amount to pitch in. Where, consultations, experience in transitioning, platform specialization / expertise, and solutions providing that deal with and focus on the case-by-case concerns of transitioning and hardware restraints or issues. In this sense, one would have to reason that technology and cars have something in common, in that there inevitably comes an age or point when it’s simply time to upgrade with newer more efficient equipment. Classics will always hold sentimental value but when it comes to reliability there is in fact a moment when it is time to look at what more can be accomplished in less time with newer technologies.

Web services: Analysis for the rest of us: Tech talk

We now know for certain that web services are at least in its bare bones form, web based applications to applications communication. Middleware is what enables and simplifies much of this, application to application communication.

The basic platform for web services are: XML and HTTP (extensible markup language and hypertext transmission protocol which runs basically everywhere on the internet).

The more complete web service platform, which follows XML and HTTP are:

1. SOAP: Simple Object Application Protocol; defines a uniform way of passing XML-encoded data and defines ways to perform remote procedure calls using HTTP as the underlying communication protocol. Middleware requires a WAN wrapper and SOAP does this.
2. UDDI: Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration Service; provides the method for dynamically locating other web services. UDDI is layered over SOAP.
3. WSDL: Web Service Description Language; creates a way for service providers to describe the basic format of web service requests over various protocols/encoding. WSDL is used to describe what a web service can do, where it is located, and how to run it.

This is just some of the basic “tech talk” used when discussing web services. It is helpful for non-programmers interested in learning more about web services to become familiar with these basic terms in order to not be thrown off by certain articles and information resources, as they tend to intertwine and create that dreaded language barrier.

Links and resource suggestions to further web service interests:

There are many more resources and links available but these will definitely get the party started and the juices flowing for realizing the real potential behind web services.

Another common mentioning for web service platforms is Microsoft’s .NET tool. To clarify, .NET is not a web service itself, but a web service developer tool. The reason there is so much .NET discussion are because standardization implications and requirements. Clearly, a Microsoft web service tool that is properly developed would make an ideal environment for increasingly more efficient for web service developments. Microsoft is notably among the first of the “Big Vendor’s” to offer up such a tool.

Web Services: Analysis for the rest of us: Bringing it home

Web services essentially are still a nascent development of Information Technology. However, all of the uncertainty aside they are here to stay and a major tool for building a better tomorrow. Web services are to IT what IT is to labor, the Sewing Machine is to sewing, or the washing machine is to laundry. Translation, who knew it could get easier?

Well it gets easier, it gets better, and it gets cheaper. That counts for a lot to most of us. Furthering the causes of web services should inevitably complement social needs for change as well, by making better use of labor hours, and decreasing past and present “issues” where age and gender have played a negative role in terms of who is best suited to do what in various departments, with technology doing most of the tedious work it will at the very least set a new awareness standard for better conditions all the way around in the work place and the community at large.

That fact that web services were already up and running before the beginning of the 21rst century sheds a light of optimism on the future we have to look forward to and the enthusiasm that is creating it.

Suggested reading:

“Out of the box: strategies for achieving profits today and growth tomorrow” by John Hagel III

Related information links:

Web service blog about web services


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