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Web services are quickly becoming significant technology in the evolution of the Web and distributed computing. Web services leverage the data independence of XML to solve enterprise integration problems, both inside and outside the firewall. Web service interfaces are shells, or wrappers, that map to any type of software program, middleware system, database management system, or packaged application.

New types of applications are being created by using standard Web services building blocks, thus creating greater economies of scale in automating business and consumer interactions with the Web and with each other. Web services technologies are rapidly changing, and a long list of additional features and functionality is required to complete the vision. The basic Web services standards—SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI—are immediately useful for many applications, such as publishing interfaces to automated business processes, bridging disparate software domains, and connecting wireless clients to Web functions.

The ebXML initiative offers an alternative view of an XML-enabled distributed computing infrastructure, specifically aimed at connecting business process interactions among Internet trading partners. ebXML represents a form of industrial-strength Web services, although ebXML does not include WSDL or UDDI. Many vendors view Web services and ebXML as significant aspects to be added to their existing products; other vendors view Web services as sufficient technology on which to base entire products.

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