Ask 10 different people to define Web Services, and I guarantee that you will get ten different answers. Given the amount of hype in the marketplace about Web Services, why are they so difficult to define? The reason is not only that marketing hype machines are working overtime in order to enable vendors to jump on the Web Services bandwagon, but also because Web Services covers a wide spectrum of uses and facilities; and it's not easy to define these capabilities in a single sentence.

We can break Web Services into two words: "Web" and "services." The word "Web" means that all operations are performed using the technology and infrastructure of the World Wide Web. A "service" is an activity or processing performed on behalf of a requestor such as a person or application. There are two different aspects of Web services ­ one with a lowercase "s" (i.e., Web services), and one with an uppercase "S" (i.e., Web Services). Web services have been around since the Web was invented. The ability of a Web-browser user to access e-mail or to order a product on the Internet is an example of Web services. Web Services, on the other hand, involve the use of XML; and it is better, therefore, to think of the current industry hullabaloo in terms of XML Web Services.

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