Web services is a fascinating topic because of the intense interest that it generates and because it means different things to different audiences. To the majority of IT professionals, Web services refer to an application that is accessed via a Web browser. This definition presents a good starting point to discuss other meanings of Web services as well as the impact of Web services, however they are defined, on the WAN.
Using a Web browser to access an application eliminates the need to have special software on client devices and so greatly increases the ease of application deployment.
However, the use of a Web browser comes at a price. Web browsers use HTTP, and HTTP traffic is notably chatty. That means that the use of HTTP significantly increases the volume of traffic that transits the WAN.
Reducing the effect of this chatty traffic is one of the reasons why many companies have begun to deploy compression devices on branch office networks. However, in an attempt to increase security, Web browsers are now making use of HTTPS. Since HTTPS traffic is encrypted, the task of compression becomes notably more difficult, if not impossible.
In addition to thinking about Web services as an application that is accessed via a Web browser, there is a growing movement to deploy a new approach to developing and supporting applications, which is also referred to as Web services. The next newsletter will detail what this use of Web services means to the WAN.