|With Web services, any business system can host a Web services layer that exposes the|
system’s underlying value in new ways. The system can, as well, consume a Web service
from another system. This is true of all classes of systems: ERP or manufacturing,
procurement or accounting, collaboration or workflow, messaging or interactive; enabling
developers to easily and dynamically incorporate that system’s core functionality in any
application. This by itself isn’t new: it can currently be done with system-specific APIs. What is
new is that the functionality which the interface fronts can now be accessed without regard to
platform or language.
Web services are the first common framework for dynamic, Web-based, system-to-system
interaction. They take the form of modular, self-describing functions (such as a query against
a shipping system or a hook into a video conferencing system) that combine existing systems,
across platforms, with business processes.
Web services enable the creation of applications that navigate, discover, and use other
applications, in much the same way that people navigate, discover, and use Web sites and
Web-based business applications.
Web services are based entirely on accretive technology, that is, by adding capabilities to
systems already in use, not by rearchitecting existing software. They eliminate most of the
work and management overhead of system integration; in fact, they move network computing
one giant step closer to the point at which the concept of systems integration, as we know it
today, is obsolete. They enable fast, inexpensive development of dynamic e-business
applications that support changing business models, and enable entirely new business
models. As such, Web services technology has the potential to afford early adopters huge
competitive advantages and pose a threat to the market position of organizations that fail to