The lowdown on web services

What are they? Web services are self-contained, self-describing applications that can be published and located on the Internet. They let incompatible systems interoperate on the Internet regardless of language, platform or operating systems. Within this decade, Web services will link billions of Palm OS devices, notebook and desktop PCs, workstations and mainframes in homes, offices and automobiles.

What types are out there? Web services run the gamut from comprehensive enterprisewide applications to small toolkits for managing, monitoring and editing current Web services.

Which do I need? It depends on your organization. Most experts advise buyers to assess their requirements carefully before investing in full-scale Web services. Large organizations tend to use the comprehensive, omnibus offerings from top vendors. Small ones are happy with smaller suites from lesser-known but credible Web services developers.

Must-know info? Industry experts say this will be a watershed year for Web services. They warn that organizations unwilling or unable to invest, at least at some level, will be left behind by those that are.

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