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For the benefit of those of our members and
supporters who could not Is
Web Service Technology a Good Fit for My Organization?
Is Web Service Technology a Good Fit for My Organization?
Author: Jay Lee
Contributed by eBI
Services� is a term that can be defined in many ways and from many
The following are but a few of the possible definitions.
and varying perspectives aside, one very important question remains:
can Web Services do for my business?
there is no complete correct answer to this question. Though the growth and
adoption of Web Services in business hinges upon the convergence of a
�generally accepted� set of industry standards, today�s myriad of
overlapping, and sometimes divergent, standards do not help this cause.
The following pages will outline some basic concepts, and entertain a few simple questions, to help you form a more coherent view of Web Services. The goal of this paper will be to help place your organization at the beginning of a roadmap to successful adoption of Web Services as part of your application integration strategy.
are Web Services?
�executive elevator pitch�
Services� technology defines a new strategy of application integration which
uses the tried and true transport technology, HTTP, and widely accepted data
formatting standard (XML) with which to:
today a powerful, yet �organic� grassroots movement to construct open
standards in an effort to forge a common language with which organizations can
communicate and interact with each other.
hype of the technology itself, �Web Services� is a mix of standards and
processes with which to employ already widely adopted technologies (HTTP, XML)
as a means for translating and transporting business data while leveraging the
investments in business functionality that exist within internal business
systems. The standards-based nature of Web Services provides the investment
protection to mitigate the risks inherent to adopting new technologies.
Reach of Web Services
Though its concept remains simple, Web Services will be an enabler of many new and existing business and computing concepts such as Grid Computing, EAI, and Business Process Management/Integration. Business value from such services, which require a distributed computing architecture, can more easily be realized within and between enterprises.
�layers� of Web Services standards
The sheer number of Web
Services standards and protocols in use today can make it difficult to
understand where they all fit into the big picture. It is easiest to classify
Web Services standards into one of five �layers� of the protocol stack
(for those of you with backgrounds in network management, this is similar to
the OSI 7-layer reference model)
protocols facilitate the location of the appropriate Web Service
for the purpose intended, or the functionality sought by a client. Available
Web Services are listed in well-known global directories.
of Web Services is done using languages such as WSDL (Web Service Description
Language) to expose the Service�s public interface.
SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is today�s most commonly adopted
standard for packaging Web Services data. Several extensions to SOAP also
exist to address security, message routing, and binary or MIME attachments.
This layer describes the protocol used to transport data of Web Service
between client and server. HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol) is the most
commonly used protocol, with extensions available, which address security
(HTTPS) and reliability (HTTPR).
This layer describes the protocol used by the end computers to move the data.
This is usually done over the Internet (using TCP/IP).
Services � Definition
sake of keeping this document focused on the question, �Is Web Service
technology a good fit for my organization?� we will refrain from providing
any detailed technical definition of Web Services. WebServices.Org http://www.webservices.org
provides excellent resources and white papers to describe Web Services
technologies, protocols, standards, and current challenges.
Services Interoperability � http://www.ws-i.org
resources to address interoperability between the myriad of Web Services
standards currently being proposed.
are the limitations of First Generation Web Services?
both �Top-Down� efforts to standardize Web Services protocols, the
frameworks of which are governed by large organizations, and �Bottom-Up
efforts which are �grassroots� movements to standardize Web Services.
There are advantages to both, and it will take years
before standards converge to a universally accepted set.
organization can benefit from the capabilities of Web Services, don�t wait
for a convergence, or a perfect set, of standards. Even with standards in
flux, there�s much to gain in leveraging Web Services within your
organization. Be sure to understand the implications of being locked into a
Your largest partners impose different Web Services standards on their
partners, leaving you with no choice but to conform to theirs. If possible,
design or select Web Services solutions, which are flexible enough to
accommodate multiple standards, or are open enough to grow with changing
requirements in the foreseeable future.
if any, �complete packages of products� are available today
In order to
ensure that your organization�s web services infrastructure provides a
complete solution, you must ensure that each of the following factors are
addressed in selection process of each piece of your Web Services strategy:
Infrastructure. Your IT organization must be able to support the network,
servers, and operating systems required to communicate using the Internet and
the World Wide Web within your enterprise and with your partner(s).
Tools. As with most systems, you will need the proper development tools to
ensure proper technical implementation of Web Services. The proper coding,
version control, and deployment tools will be critical to managing Web
Services development cycles.
Tools. Though individual Web Services are not difficult to create, when
they become large in number, they can become unwieldy to manage. You will need
ways to manage Partner relations (and the variations between standards used by
different partners), monitor activity, and comprehensively address security
issues. Due to the youth of Web Services and its yet-to-be widespread
deployment, very few packages on the market today offer proper management
tools. Be cautious in selecting the products or and solution packages that you
choose to implement and eventually manage your web services.
When evaluating Web Services, or any technology for this matter, and to
ensure due diligence to the security of your business systems and data, you
must ensure that the following simple questions are addressed
each step of the way, by each component implemented:
will Web Services fit into my organization�s IT strategy?
businesses today use computers and software in one or more forms to manage
their daily operations. They often end up with several disparate, isolated
business applications, which cannot easily communicate with each other or
exchange data efficiently and reliably.
Services provides a more open interface with which you can expose the
functionality of your isolated applications to applications used in other
departments within your organization or to select partners with whom B2B
automation would make sense.
Services technology can also be used as a foundation for �self-contained�
business functions (rather than as just a means to integrate functionality of
may choose to build such a service from the ground up as an intangible
product, service, or data offering. Open standards ensure that prospective
customers can easily communicate with your Web Service without acquisition of
proprietary Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) or Software Development
adopt Web Services?
value of existing systems. As with any integration solution, Web Services
will allow you to use functionality, which was once locked into your business
protection. By investing resources in a technology, which is based on
widely adopted protocols (such as HTTP, XML) you will not be stuck with any
proprietary integration technologies as you once may have been with
proprietary connectors and adapters of the past.
Agility, Scalability. Again,
due to the standards-based nature of Web Services, you can scale horizontally
to account for growing numbers of applications across the enterprise, which
can access value delivered by a Web Services solution. You can also easily
scale vertically to account for transaction volume.
organization adopt Web Services?
evaluating a new technology, product, or service, it is always important to
first envision how your organization will best benefit from it. Which
departments can benefit the most from automation and integration of processes?
Which systems hold data, which can be leveraged by external applications or by
your business partners, suppliers, or customers?
small, with a pilot. Explore your organization�s IT resources and search
for a unit of work that can be consumed by client applications as a Web
Service. The value of implementing a Web Service for this unit of work should
be quantifiable. This value may come from the elimination having to manually
perform a repetitive task, reduction of human errors and omissions, or in the
service�s ability to scale to multiple disparate clients without additional
your returns. Determine the returns on your initial investment, taking
into account how the cost of ownership will scale as the number of Web
and, if necessary, revise your roadmap. Determine whether the returns
resulting from your Web Services investment can justify a large-scale
deployment. You may find that the timing is not right for your organization to
adopt Web Services technology, or that your IT organization is not ready to
support it. If you decide that Web Services makes sense for you, revise your
roadmap, adjusting for what you�ve learned in your pilot be ready to act
Use what you�ve learned from your previous experience to determine what
criteria to use when selecting products and services to help you scale,
manage, and protect your Web Services investments.
early stages of any new technology�s adoption lifecycle, we must accept that
changes will happen. Build enough flexibility into your system to account for
these changes. Don�t wait for the �perfect moment� to enter the Web
Services playing field. As with any system with high potential returns on
investment, time lost is money lost.
used Web Services acronyms
About eBI Solutions LLC
eBI Solutions specializes in providing e-Business Integration solutions, providing eAI and B2B integration solutions to companies in the mid-market as well as Fortune 500 clients. Experience helps us to appreciate the challenges mid-size companies face, and to select relevant solutions for today and tomorrow, with an ROI and a budget that make sense.
While the primary focus is integration technology, an integration project is only successful when the team running it has an intrinsic understanding of the systems and business processes impacted by an integration project. Our approach to integration and selecting professionals for our projects clearly reflect that reality.
eBI Solutions is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, and backed by Statmon Technologies, an emerging leader in a new generation of integration and control systems.
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