This column introduces some reasons for the emergence of Web services for the corporate intranet, extranets and the Internet. Web services offer great promise for the future – particularly for enterprise application integration (EAI). For readers who are interested first in a nontechnical introduction, I will initially relate Web services to other technologies that are more familiar. Later columns will further examine Web service concepts and will look in more detail at some of the tools and products that are being released to support this burgeoning field.

To understand the state of the information technology industry today, it is useful for us to consider problems and solutions from other industries. We will use these solutions as lessons for the IT industry. For example, consider how cars would be built and used if the automobile industry had evolved not as it is today, but instead it had evolved similar to today's IT industry. Picture the following scenario.

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