Web Service Scenarios

Current Web Services provide simple information sources that you can easily incorporate into applications, such as stock quotes, weather forecasts, and sports scores. As the demand for access to business logic over the web increases, companies are finding ways of providing their customers with a class of applications to analyze and aggregate information. If a customer now keeps a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet in which they manually summarize their financial information, such as stock portfolio, 401 (k), bank account, and loan information, in the future, a Web Service will consolidate and continuously update this information for display by Excel or on a personal web site or digital assistant. Although much of this information is available through the web today, a Web Service will simplify access and consolidation and will ensure greater reliability.

You can use Web Services for solutions in the following areas:

  • Enterprise Application Integration (EAI). A web service could allow multiple business partners to exchange inventory, order, or financial data, for example, without specifically knowing the precise data layout in which each partner's data is stored. For instance, many CRM or other front-end applications store customer data in a format that is not entirely compatible with the way a back-end ERP system stores its financial or inventory information. Yet, a sales organization may wish to use its CRM solution to process real-time orders with up-to-date inventory information from the ERP system. A web service could be a solution to managing the transformation of CRM requests to ERP storage and from ERP responses to CRM confirmations.
  • Business-to-business (B2B) integration. Similar to the EAI solution, a B2B solution could take advantage of a web service capability to provide cached data for large orders. B2B transactions, unlike business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions, often consist of high-volume transactions that would be prohibitive to execute at the granular level of a B2C transaction. For instance, a consumer might order one box of pencils from an online stationery store, but a business might order a thousand boxes monthly, with multiple shipping addresses. The scale and complexity of a B2B transaction requires the intervention of a web service to help simplify and process the transaction quickly and with consistency.
  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) integration. B2C web services typically manage web-based transactions. For example, a web service that allows you to look up postal codes eliminates the need for any given individual to create a new program to perform this task every time they want to include the service on a web site. Some commerce sites might use web services to help manage currency conversion when taking international sales orders.
  • Mobile (Smart client applications). Because the small footprint of a mobile client requires that memory usage be reserved for only the most important system functions, and because mobile clients are, by definition, linked to the Internet by way of their wireless communication protocols, web services play a vital role in providing lightweight but powerful applications to mobile devices. Web services allow mobile device users to perform a variety of tasks which require little more than data input at the device and data display of the results. All processing can occur on a remote web service, thus decreasing bandwidth requirements on the mobile device itself.
  • Distributed/Peer-to-Peer. For certain types of distributed and peer-to-peer applications, web services play an important role. If using distributed computing over an uncontrolled network (such as the Internet) rather than over a LAN or corporate network, you might use web services, which do not require state maintenance, thus offering potentially improved performance, particularly where a request-response behavior is not unequivocally required. For applications that require strict request-response behavior and high security, you should consider using an older, more controlled model, such as COM, CORBA, or .NET remoting.

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