Web Services

what does it all mean?

The software marketplace is rapidly changing and microsoft have been keeping me on the edge of my seat with constant talk about their new "Longhorn" operating system which now won't be released until later this year. With the advent of Longhorn a new buzzword is flying around "Web Services". So what exactly is a web service?

Now that we are moving to this Web services world--a loosely coupled, message-based breakthrough that computer scientists have dreamed of for decades--all of the things that let that be possible need to be in the $50 operating system. And so here we have Indigo, which will be in Windows and let you do transactions and queuing.BILL GATES - October 28 2003

You use a web service in much the same way that you use a utilities supplier. You subscribe to a service, utilise it's benefits and pay a monthly fee and/or a fee based on data quantity or usage. One example of a web service is Salesforce.com or The IN network, both of whom provide a web-based information service for a monthly fee. Indigo, which will ship with Microsoft Longhorn has built in capability for these sorts of services based on standards that Microsoft and IBM announced they were going to use early last year.

Web Service Advantages
There are many advantages to using a web service, but there are some questions you need to ask before you go ahead to see if you are gaining any real benefit by paying for this service:

Is the web service providing me with clients or information I would otherwise not have had access to?

Most web services are ideal for acquiring leads or displaying your information on other people's sites. Make sure, however, that the information you are paying for is information you could not get on your own or that the leads provided can actually be converted into real sales.

Does the web service allow me to stop using my current software?

This is the main principal behind web service software that Bill Gates was going on about. If you can find a web service that will cover all of the functions that you need, why would you ever need to buy another piece of software? Think of the advantages:

1/ Upgrades and fixes only have to be made in one place by the developer of the software. You'll never have to upgrade again!
2/ Access your system from any computer in the world provided it is connected to the internet.
3/ Security. The majority of web service software is well protected in fireproof vaults with security access, multiple firewalls, anti-virus systems and regular backups. You'll never have to worry about somebody stealing your server again! After all, hardware can be replaced, but your database of leads, clients and contacts is invaluable.

Does the web service contain all the features that I need?

This is unlikely. Today's web services are built for the majority of users, not for the individual. The future of web services lies in creating a highly customisable and flexible piece of software that can be modified by the user to suit their exact requirements.

Alistair Shaw
Third Rock Design

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