Former Utah CIO offers pointers

Agencies should start taking small steps toward Web services, former Utah CIO Phillip J. Windley says.

Windley advised e-government planners not to worry about Web services marketing hype or to spend months on formal studies. He spoke this month at an Arlington, Va., workshop sponsored by the Universal Access Working Group of the CIO Council's Architecture and Infrastructure Committee.

'It's not a lot more complicated than doing Web pages back in 1994 or 1995,' Windley said. 'It's something fairly easy.'

Windley stepped down as Utah's systems chief at the end of last year and now works as a consultant.

He defined Web services as self-contained pieces of code that do three things:
  • Communicate with each other in an interoperable Extensible Markup Language protocol such as Simple Object Access Protocol

  • Describe themselves in an interoperable XML metaformat such as Web Services Description Language (WSDL)

  • Unite globally through XML registries.

Web services lend themselves to common cross-agency functions such as payment gateways and computer-aided dispatching, Windley said. He illustrated their scope by describing a site that could handle all the data changes for a family that moves to a new state and has to change postal address, automobile and school registrations, and driver's licenses.

If an organization already has a Web site that links to a database, the added cost of making the site compatible with other Web services is marginal, Windley said.

He posts a weblog at www.windley.com.

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