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The Fight Over Web Services Future

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What's going on with Web services? Wouldn't it be great if the customers and consumers of Web services could take responsibility for their future away from the vendors, and ensure that they'll be implemented and adopted as intended and necessary? Eric Newcomer discusses where Web services are going, and whether or not they will ever fulfill their promise.
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The core Web services standards—SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI—have received widespread adoption and generated tremendous interest. Many proposals are being brought forward for needed additional features such as security, reliable messaging, transactionality, business process flow, and so on; and multiple vendor groups and independent organizations are getting into the act. It's not at all clear what's going to happen before things settle down, even with the core standards.

You may be wondering what's going on with Web services at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), about their relationship to ebXML and the recently launched Web Services Interoperability Organization. In particular, though, I suppose you are really wondering where Web services are going, and whether or not they will ever fulfill their promise.

It's kind of a long story, full of the usual conflict of interest among competing vendors, which may in fact foreshadow doom if not resolved. Wouldn't it be great if the customers and consumers of Web services could take responsibility for their future away from the vendors, and ensure they'll be implemented and adopted as intended and necessary? Well, until the day when the marketplace starts dictating the direction of Web services, divergence and confusion will continue.

Introduction

Despite the fact that there is already more support for the core Web services technologies—SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI—than there ever has been before for any set of comparable specifications, the killer applications for Web services haven't yet emerged; and no one can yet chart a clear path for their future evolution among the plethora of proposals, organizations, and vendors' initiatives in this space. But that doesn't mean they aren't going to try.

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