The lowdown on web services

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What is it? Web services, essentially, provide applications'from customer services to human resources'over the Internet or another network. They largely rely on Extensible Markup Language for exchanging data. Web services are widely seen as a potential catalyst for government electronic transactions.

Why do I need it? Web services are a key component in a service-oriented architecture, which can integrate an organization's data and allow transactions while keeping data centralized.

What are the caveats? Many of the development tools that enable Web services are proprietary, which can make development difficult. And, because they use Web protocols, security is a concern.

Must-know info? Standards are still evolving and the market is immature. Closely follow the standards saga to ensure that new projects can meet your development goals, and that your tools have the latest technology. Rigorously test new code and try out a new environment's compatibility with your existing toolkit. Web services exist to achieve interoperability; development tools should reflect that.

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