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What Is a Web Service?
What Is a Web Service?

More than just a semantic quibble, the question of what truly is Web Services takes many twists and turns. Part of that is because there is no single standards body, so multiple overlapping standards can and do arise (for example, WSDL and UDDI definitely overlap in certain areas). Adding to the confusion is the desire to be buzzword compliant with the latest technology, or to co-opt the standard into some proprietary implementation by claiming it as "Web Services." So we asked the members of our advisory boards, who are all intimately familiar with Web Services in all their flavors, colors, and spins, to answer the question: "What is Web Services?"

We'd like to hear from you as well. Let us know what you think.

From Derek Ferguson, the editor-in-chief of .NET Developer's Journal and chief technology evangelist at Expand Beyond:

At the risk of turning it into a purely semantic debate, I think that there are "web services", and then there are Web Services. Sun, for example, claims to have been doing "web services" for years. However, the standards that support true Web Services have only been in existence for a couple of years at the absolute most. So, clearly - if they mean anything at all - they can't be talking about Web Services that were built using such technologies as SOAP and UDDI.

True Web Services, to me, are just software components that expose their functionality for consumption via XML rather than via a human-centric visual user interface. The value of Web Services is that they adhere to standards - XML and open Internet protocols - that can and have been implemented on virtually every kind of computing machinery devised. Therefore, for the first time, you can have vastly different kinds of software on vastly different kinds of platforms all easily "talking to each other."

To the extent that one deviates from these standards, one eats away at the very value proposition of Web Services - so the XML and exclusive usage of open Internet protocols are really central to my definition of Web Services.

Andy Astor, vice president of enterprise Web services for webMethods, adds to Derek Ferguson's comments : Indeed. The cover story of the premier issue of our own magazine (WSJ) was on Dun & Bradstreet's Web services, which were (and remain) completely SOAP/WSDL/UDDI-free. It's totally appropriate to recognize that there's a valid definition that is conceptual in nature, and that several companies like Sun and webMethods have been doing them for years. Having said that, the conceptual definition just doesn't fly today, precisely because of Derek's main point [see paragraph 2] ...standards mean everyone does it the same way, which enables true interoperability.

Simeon Simeonov is a Boston-based principal at Polaris Venture Partners, with a focus on opportunities in information technology

Tough question. Analysts would define Web Services in different ways. The way I think of it, I see a difference between how Web Services are implemented now and in the future. Right now, a Web Service is any software that can be accessed over SOAP. In the future, a Web Service would be some functionality that is designed for use in a service-oriented architecture. It can be discovered, described and accessed using open, standards-based technology.

Paul Lipton is a director and technology strategist at Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA).

Not to belabor a point, but part of the problem lies in the name "Web Services," which leaves us open to that proposition that strictly speaking every distributed request using Internet protocols, like an HTTP GET request that precipitates an automatic response, is in some sense a Web Service. While true in theory, this is not really true in practice today.

On the other hand, the assumption that Web Services have to include at least these three ingredients (SOAP, UDDI, and WSDL) is also a presumption. There are XML-based alternatives to all of these, but the weight of leading vendors is pushing people down a path. Many will have no choice but to hold their breath, follow the leaders, and hope the water doesn't get too deep! Vendors who are committed to their clients will work hard to minimize the pain for the customers, but there will be stress, of course.

From a spokesperson at Sun Microsystems:
Web services are software components that respond to service requests using a set of open standards. Sun prefers a simple definition of Web services for two reasons: First of all, simplicity is a base characteristic of the fuel necessary to propel Web services into mass adoption - simple verbs connecting virtually infinite nouns. Secondly, the more definitions we tack on to Web services the more we risk limiting their application; Web services is software delivery concept that, in the end, is much bigger and revolutionary than the technical constructs on which current efforts depend.

Web services emerged as a confluence of ideas that emanate from three distinct areas: the Web, XML-based enterprise application integration, and interface-based distributed computing models. Most initial efforts in Web services have involved building standards-based interfaces between internal systems as an alternative to proprietary or "custom-code" integration solutions. This path represents the usage of Web services in a way that is "minimally invasive" in terms of changing the way IT organizations design and build software. As Web services usage expands and matures, the organizations that want to leverage the promises of a services-oriented architecture will need to adopt new approaches, new tools and new development patterns. Here are just a few of the implications that need to be addressed:
1.   Security, management and transactional integrity will need to move from the center of the network out to the edge of the network where most transactions will occur.

2.   Application development will start with process flow definition and interface generation - and code writers will work only where necessary between the connection points.

3.   Current development tools and systems management approaches will need to be fundamentally reengineered to support new realities.

From Bernhard Borges of IBM Business Consulting Services:

Web Services is a concept aligning distributed computing competencies with a specific portfolio of technologies (e.g., XML, TCP/IP), methodlogies (e.g, XML over HTTP - SOAP), and implementations (e.g., specifications -- choreogtraphy) primarily in an open standards manner.

About SOA News Desk
SOA World Magazine News Desk trawls the world of distributed computing and SOA-related developments for the latest word on technologies, standards, products, and services and brings key information to you in a timely and convenient summary form.

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WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers Include

MATTHIEU
Octoblu

MAHADEV
Cisco

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

FELICIANO
AMDG

PAUL
VenueNext

SMITH
Eviot

BEAMER
goTraverse

GETTENS
goTraverse

CHAMBLISS
ReadyTalk

HERBERTS
Cityzen Data

REITBAUER
Dynatrace

WILLIAM-
SON

Cloud
Computing

SCHMARZO
EMC

WOOD
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WALLGREN
Electric Cloud

VARAN-
NATH

GE

SRIDHARA-
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Pulzze

METRIC
Linux

MONTES
Iced

ARIOLA
Parasoft

HOLT
Daitan

CUNNING-
HAM

ReadyTalk

BEDRO-
SIAN

Cypress

NAMIE
Cisco

NAKA-
GAWA

Transparent
Cloud

SHIBATA
Transparent
Cloud

BOYD
Neo4j

WARD
DWE

MILLER
Covisint

EVAVOLD
Covisint

MEINER
Oracle

MEEHAN
Esri

WITECK
Citrix

LIANG
Rancher Labs

BUTLER
Tego

ROWE
IBM Cloud

SKILLERN
Intel

SMITH
Numerex
WebRTC Summit New York All-Star Speakers Include

CLELAND
HGST

VASILIOU
Catchpoint

WALLGREN
Electric Cloud

HINCH-
CLIFFE

7Summits

DE SOUZA
Cisco

RANDALL
Gartner

ARM-
STRONG

AppNeta

SMALL-
TREE

Cazena

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

DELOACH
Infobright

QUINT
Ontegrity

MALAU-
CHLAN

Buddy Platform

PALIOTTA
Vector

MITRA
Cognizant

KOCHER
Grey Heron

PAPDO
POULOS

Cloud9

HARLAN
Two Bulls

GOLO
SHUBIN

Bit6

PROIETTI
Location
Smart

MARTIN
nfrastructure

MOULINE
Everbridge

MARSH
Blue Pillar

PARKS
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PEROTTI
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HOFFMAN
EastBanc

WATSON
Trendalyze

BENSON-
OFF

Unigma

SHAN
CTS

MATTELA
Redpine

GILLEN
Spark
Coginition

SOLT
Netvibes

BERN-
ARDO

GE Digital

ROMAN-
SKY

TrustPoint

BEAMER
GoTransverse

LESTER
LogMeIn

PONO
-MAREVA

Google

SINGH
Sencha

CALKINS
Amadeus

KLEIN
Rachio

HOASIN
Aeris

SARKARIA
PHEMI

SPROULE
Metavine

SNELL
Intel

LEVINE
CytexOne

ALLEN
Freewave

MCCAL-
LUM

Falconstor

HYEDT
Seamless

WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers Include

SCHULZ
Luxoft

TAM-
BURINI

Autodesk

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

THURAI
SaneIoT

TURNER
Cloudian

ENDO
Intrepid

NAKAGAWA
Transparent

SHIBATA
Transparent

LEVANT-LEVI
testRTC

VARAN NATH
GE

COOPER
M2Mi

SENAY
Teletax

SKEEN
Vitria

KOCHER
Grey Heron

GREENE
PubNub

MAGUIRE
HP

MATTHIEU
Octoblu

STEINER-
JOVIC

AweSense

LYNN
AgilData

HEDGES
Cloudata

DUFOUR
Webroot

ROBERTS
Platform

JONES
Deep

PFEIFFER
NICTA

NIELSEN
Redis

PAOLAL-
ANTORIO

DataArchon

KAHN
Solgenia

LOPEZ
Kurento

KIM
MapR

BROMHEAD
Instaclustr

LEVINE
CytexOne

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

GORBA-
CHEV

Intelligent
Systems

THYKAT-
TIL

Navisite

TRELOAR
Bebaio

SIVARAMA-
KRISHNAN

Red Hat
Cloud Expo New York All-Star Speakers Included

DE SOUZA
Cisco

POTTER
SafeLogic

ROBINSON
CompTIA

WARUSA
-WITHANA

WSO2 Inc

MEINER
Oracle

CHOU
Microsoft

HARRISON
Tufin

BRUNOZZI
VMware

KIM
MapR

KANE
Dyn

SICULAR
Basho

TURNER
Cloudian

KUMAR
Liaison

ADAMIAK
Liaison

KHAN
Solgenia

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

SUSSMAN
Coalfire

ISAACSON
RMS

LYNN
CodeFutures

HEABERLIN
Windstream

RAMA
MURTHY

Virtusa

BOSTOCK
IndependenceIT

DE MENO
CommVault

GRILLI
Adobe

WILLIAMS
Rancher Labs

CRISWELL
Alert Logic

COTY
Alert Logic

JACOBS
SingleHop

MARAVEI
Cisco

JACKSON
Softlayer

SINGH
IBM

HAZARD
Softlayer

GALLO
Softlayer

TAMASKAR
GENBAND

SUBRA
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Emcien

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Windstream

IVANOV
StorPool

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BERG

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Microsoft

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Akana

PILUSO
SIASMSP

HOLT
IBM Cloudant

SHAN
CTS

PICCIN-
INNI

EMC

BRON-
GERSMA

Modulus

PAIGE
CenturyLink

SABHIKHI
Cognitive Scale

MILLS
Green House Data

KATZEN
CenturyLink

SLOPER
CenturyLink

SRINIVAS
EMC

TALREJA
Cisco

GORBACHEV
Systems Services Inc.

COLLISON
Apcera

PRABHU
OpenCrowd

LYNN
CodeFutures

SWARTZ
Ericsson

MOSHENKO
CoreOS

BERMING-
HAM

SIOS

WILLIS
Stateless Networks

MURPHY
Gridstore

KHABE
Vicom

NIKOLOV
GetClouder

DIETZE
Windstream

DALRY-
MPLE

EnterpriseDB

MAZZUCCO
TierPoint

RIVERA
WHOA.com

HERITAGE
Akana

SEYMOUR
6fusion

GIANNETTO
Author

CARTER
IBM

ROGERS
Virtustream
Cloud Expo Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers

TESAR
Microsoft

MICKOS
HP

BHARGAVA
Intel

RILEY
Riverbed

DEVINE
IBM

ISAACSON
CodeFutures

LYNN
HP

HINKLE
Citrix

KHAN
Solgenia

SINGH
Bigdata

BEACH
SendGrid

BOSTOCK
IndependenceIT

DE SOUZA
Cisco

PATTATHIL
Harbinger

O'BRIEN
Aria Systems

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

BIANCO
Solgenia

PROCTOR
NuoDB

DUGGAL
EnterpriseWeb

TEGETHOFF
Appcore

BRUNOZZI
VMware

HICKENS
Parasoft

KLEBANOV
Cisco

PETERS
Esri

GOLDBERG
Vormetric

CUMBER-
LAND

Dimension

ROSENDAHL
Quantum

LOOMIS
Cloudant

BRUNO
StackIQ

HANNON
SoftLayer

JACKSON
SoftLayer

HOCH
Virtustream

KAPADIA
Seagate

PAQUIN
OnLive

TSAI
Innodisk

BARRALL
Connected Data

SHIAH
AgilePoint

SEGIL
Verizon

PODURI
Citrix

COWIE
Dyn

RITTEN-
HOUSE

Cisco

FALLOWS
Kaazing

THYKATTIL
TimeWarner

LEIDUCK
SAP

LYNN
HP

WAGSTAFF
BSQUARE

POLLACK
AOL

KAMARAJU
Vormetric

BARRY
Catbird

MENDEN-
HALL

SUPERNAP

SHAN
KEANE

PLESE
Verizon

BARNUM
Voxox

TURNER
Cloudian

CALDERON
Advanced Systems

AGARWAL
SOA Software

LEE
Quantum

OBEROI
Concurrent, Inc.

HATEM
Verizon

GALEY
Autodesk

CAUTHRON
NIMBOXX

BARSOUM
IBM

GORDON
1Plug

LEWIS
Verizon

YEO
OrionVM

NAKAGAWA
Transparent Cloud Computing

SHIBATA
Transparent Cloud Computing

NATH
GE

GOKCEN
GE

STOICA
Databricks

TANKEL
Pivotal Software


Testimonials
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CEO of @Cnnct2me
 
One of the best conferences we have attended in a while. Great job, Cloud Expo team! Keep it going."

@Peak_Ten


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