The use of Web services among corporate users will reach the mainstream by 2003 and will reach the business-to-consumer e-commerce sector by 2004, according to Tom Burns, director of the Asia-Pacific Internet solutions group at Intel Corp. Asia-Pacific.
The presence of large vendors such as IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., BEA Systems Inc. and Intel itself are driving the Web services market, which has several key characteristics, Burns said at International Data Corp.'s Asia-Pacific IT forum here Monday.
"Web services are applications which interact dynamically together using standard Internet technologies," he said. "They can help to build bridges between services, which would otherwise require extensive development effort."
An example where Web services are used is stock trading portals. The end user initiates a transaction, and the trading portal carries out authentication of the trade with the stock exchange, and the debiting or crediting of the user's bank account. Being able to do this mandates that Web services follow a set of common standards, such as those being developed by the RosettaNet Inc. consortium.
Individual technical standards used with Web services include UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration), SOAP (simple object access protocol), WSDL (Web services description language), and XML (Extensible Markup Language). These are being incorporated into various high-level development tools such as Microsoft Corp.'s Visual Studio.Net, IBM's WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic.
"The benefits are the ability to access existing applications, operational efficiency, integration across businesses and software distribution," Burns said. "But Web services must have security, and they must not be platform-specific."
Burns said that users should begin tagging data they use with XML tags and enforce standards for dealing with data inside their companies. This lays the groundwork for those users to start using Web services.
"Web services now are being taken up by early adopters and there is a lot of learning to do," he said. "They will grow the market for online devices, whether those devices are mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), tablets or notebook computers. And with broadband networks, that is going to deliver a lot of high-intensity computing which will put storage, servers and networks under strain."