Benefits of Web Services
Web services are gaining in popularity because of the benefits they provide. Listed here are some of the key benefits:
Interoperability in a heterogeneous environment—
Probably the key benefit of the Web service model is that it permits different distributed services to run on a variety of software platforms and architectures, and allows them to be written in different programming languages. As enterprises develop over time, they add systems and solutions that often require different platforms and frequently don't communicate with each other. Later, perhaps due to a consolidation or the addition of another application, it becomes necessary to tie together this disparate functionality. The greatest strength of Web services is their ability to enable interoperability in a heterogeneous environment. As long as the various systems are enabled for Web services, they can use the services to easily interoperate with each other.
Business services through the Web—
An enterprise can use Web services to leverage the advantages of the World Wide Web for its operations. For example, an enterprise might make its product catalog and inventory available to its vendors through a Web service to achieve better supply chain management.
Integration with existing systems—
Most enterprises have an enormous amount of data stored in existing enterprise information systems, and the cost to replace these systems is such that discarding these legacy systems may not be an option. Web services let enterprise application developers reuse and even commoditize these existing information assets. Web services provide developers with standard ways to access middle-tier and back-end services, such as database management systems and transaction monitors, and integrate them with other applications. In addition, because these services are provided consistently, developers do not need to learn new programming models or styles as integration needs expand.
Freedom of choice—
Web service standards have opened a large marketplace for tools, products, and technologies. This gives organizations a wide variety of choices, and they can select configurations that best meet their application requirements. Developers can enhance their productivity because, rather than having to develop their own solutions, they can choose from a ready market of off-the-shelf application components. Tools, furthermore, provide the ability to move quickly and easily from one configuration to another as required. Web services also ensure the standardization of tools, so that development tools can adopt new tools, whether from server vendors or third-party tool developers, as needs arise.
Support more client types—
Since a main objective of Web services is improving interoperability, exposing existing applications or services as Web services increases their reach to different client types. This occurs regardless of the platform on which the client is based: it doesn't matter if the client is based on the Java or Microsoft platforms or even if it is based on a wireless platform. In short, a Web service can help you extend your applications and services to a rich set of client types.
To be productive in the information economy requires the ability to develop and deploy applications in a timely fashion. Applications must go quickly from prototype to production and must continue to evolve even after they are placed into production. Productivity is enhanced when application development teams have a standard means to access the services required by multitier applications and standard ways to support a variety of clients. Web services, by creating a common programming standard, help to enhance programming productivity. Prior to the advent of Web services, developers programming in the distributed computing environment have relied on a diverse set of not-always-compatible technologies. Developers have attempted to tie together various diverse back-end systems, such as both custom and standard database management systems and transaction processors, with traditional Web technologies, but have had to deal with a multitude of programming models. Because Web services introduce a common standard across the Web, vendors, in the interest of staying competitive, are more likely to develop better tools and technologies. These tools and technologies will attract developers because they emphasize increased programming productivity. As a result, the entire industry benefits.
Application development has also been complicated by the requirement that a particular application support a specific type of client or several types simultaneously. Web services, because they promote interoperability, simplify this facet of the application development process.