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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Why Web Services?

Rather than “what?” I think the more important question is “why?” Why should you care about Web services? The answer is that Web services mitigate the application integration crisis. They help you integrate applications, and they do so at a significantly lower price point than any other integration technology.

Web services represent a new form of middleware based on XML and the Web. XML and the Web help solve the challenges associated with traditional application-to-application integration, which I identified in Chapter 1 as the Traditional Middleware Blues. To summarize:

  • Traditional middleware doesn't support heterogeneity.

  • Traditional middleware doesn't work across the Internet.

  • Traditional middleware isn't pervasive.

  • Traditional middleware is hard to use.

  • Traditional middleware is expensive.

  • Traditional middleware maintenance costs are outrageous.

  • Traditional middleware connections are hard to reuse.

  • Traditional middleware connections are fragile.

Web services address these issues. Web services are platform- and language-independent. You can develop a Web service using any language, and you can deploy it on any platform, from the tiniest device to the largest supercomputer. More to the point, any Web service can be accessed by any other application, regardless of either's language or platform. Web services communicate using XML and Web protocols, which are pervasive, work both internally and across the Internet, and support heterogeneous interoperability.

Web services simplify the process of making applications talk to each other. Simplification results in lower development cost, faster time to market, easier maintenance, and reduced total cost of ownership. The bottom line is this: Web services allow you to integrate your applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional middleware.

Traditional RPC-style middleware, such as RPC, CORBA, RMI, and DCOM, relies on tightly coupled connections. A tightly coupled connection is very brittle, and it can break if you make any modification to the application. Tightly coupled connections are the source of many a maintenance nightmare. In contrast, Web services support loosely coupled connections. Loose coupling minimizes the impact of changes to your applications. A Web service interface provides a layer of abstraction between the client and server. A change in one doesn't necessarily force a change in the other. The abstract interface also makes it easier to reuse a service in another application. Loose coupling reduces the cost of maintenance and increases reusability.

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