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What is so hot about Webservices?

M.K.A. Monster
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Joined: May 02, 2002
Posts: 130
Hello Everyone,
I'd like to know what is so hot about webservices. Everyone is talking about it, but I think few of them really know what webservices are.
Is webservice just a Buzzword, like .NET is, or is it more than that?
Should we change the we design our applications? What designpoints should change, is there a standard available?
And what about security? Does the using of webservices change the way you think about the security in your webapp, or is it just the same?
Regards,
Mark Monster
Lasse Koskela
author
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Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 11962
    
    5
Originally posted by M.K.A. Monster:
Everyone is talking about it, but I think few of them really know what webservices are.

I have noticed the same. I bumped into the term "Web Services" for the first time during the last century - then it was used to refer to "services provided through a Web browser"...

Is webservice just a Buzzword, like .NET is, or is it more than that?

I believe Web Services is a kind of buzzword, but does have some content and a lot of potential. SOAP, WSDL and UDDI are what makes "Web Services" from a technical point of view and these are nothing new - except that they're XML based standards. The real benefit of Web Services is not the technical ability to send XML messages but the ability to talk the same language, using the same terms. This is what's so far missing and, in my opinion, gives Web Services a buzzword status.

Should we change the we design our applications? What designpoints should change, is there a standard available?

IMO, Web Services should not change the way you design your application. Web Services are a way to publish your application, let others use it.

And what about security? Does the using of webservices change the way you think about the security in your webapp, or is it just the same?

Again, I don't think you should change the design (including security). Design the application level security as usual and build the Web Service in such a way that your application gets the required credentials. If you're thinking about transport level security, I believe that should be dealt with when considering the ports/bindings provided via Web Services.

I would be interested to hear others' opinions about the subject.


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Rama Raghavan
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Joined: Aug 22, 2001
Posts: 116
IMO - A typical web application is where you have pretty front end pages that work with server side enterprise services via well defined interfaces (contract).
Web service on the other hand, is exposing the server side services to the other enterprises via well defined interfaces, but not the pretty views.
If in-fact it is being published for use by other businesses, then the service must be providing specialized services.
Is webservice just a Buzzword, like .NET is, or is it more than that?

Unfortunately so, even if one is not in the business of selling services..
Should we change the we design our applications?

(Cautious) NO.
You may have to provide wrappers to your enterprise services by intercepting the request, parsing out the XML document that was sent, and in-turn making calls to your enterprise services, and on the way back, package back into XML document and return to the client.
I'd just say watch out for:
1. Interface Design
Once you expose your services for use by the "world", then the exposed interface should be flexible and possibly allow for change so as to not break compatability..It was easier when you were working within the enterprise.
2. Availability
You are now selling your services to others, and so you (may) have established an agreement on availability. Outages will cost you as opposed to working within your enterprise.
3. Security
When working within the enterprise, containers/app-servers provide support such as session ID, that can be used to identify a returning client (and/or manage state).
Every invocation of the web service may require validation of credentials and other state infomation(you'd think?)
I am speaking loud, as I learn, so please correct me.
Rama
Lasse Koskela
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Sheriff

Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 11962
    
    5
Originally posted by Rama Raghavan:
2. Availability
You are now selling your services to others, and so you (may) have established an agreement on availability. Outages will cost you as opposed to working within your enterprise.

Oh I wish it was that simple
The cost of downtime can be just as high for internal services than for external services. Even though there may be no SLAs in place, the dead service can cause severe problems with production lines etc. which, in turn, may cause delays, missed deadlines and so on, leading to financial losses.
 
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
 
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