Sunday, September 25, 2005

Discuss the importance of Web services to B2B integration

In order for B2B companies to interact with each other easily and effectively, they must be able to connect their servers, applications, and databases. For this to happen, standard protocols and data representation schemes are needed. EDI is one such standard, but it has several limitations and is not structured for the Internet. We all know that the web is based on the standard communication protocols of TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) and HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Furthermore, web pages are written in the universally recognized standard notation of HTML. This standard environment is useful only for displaying static visual Web pages. To further extend the functionality of EC sites, once can use JavaScript and other Java and ActiveX programs. These tools allow for human interaction, but they still do not address the need to interconnect back-end database systems and applications.

According to Venu Vasudevan who wrote a primer on Web services,
“Web services are a new breed of Web application. They are self-contained, self-describing, modular applications that can be published, located, and invoked across the Web. Web services perform functions, which can be anything from simple requests to complicated business processes...Once a Web service is deployed, other applications (and other Web services) can discover and invoke the deployed service.
IBM's web services tutorial goes on to say that the notion of a web service would have been too inefficient to be interesting a few years ago. But the trends like cheaper bandwidth and storage, more dynamic content, the pervasiveness and diversity of computing devices with different access platforms make the need for a glue more important, while at the same time making the costs (bandwidth and storage) less objectionable” (

King, D. et al. said that Web services is a general-purpose architecture that enables distributed applications to be assembled from a web of software services in the same way that web sites are assembled from a web of HTML pages. It is one of the most talked-about topics in e-commerce and IT. The major technologies behind Web services include XML, SOAP, UDDI, and WDSL. Using these standards, Web services allow different applications from different organizations to communicate data without custom coding. Because all communication is in XML, Web services are not tied to any one operating system or programming language. Based on the preceding statements, Web services are viewed as building blocks for distributed systems.
There’s no doubt that Web services will play a major role in facilitating B2B because they make it easier to meet business customers and channel partners’ demands.

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