In the November 2002 issue of DM Review, we discussed the evolution of Web services through Phase 1 (1999-2001) and Phase 2 (2002-2004). This month, we discuss the evolution of Web services through 2005 and beyond.

Phase 3 (2005 and Beyond): In Phase 3 of the evolution of Web services, organizations will change not only their business processes, but also their business models as they move to real-time collaboration and integration of processes both within and between enterprises. While Phases 1 and 2 address the surfacing of Web services previously locked away in current and legacy systems, Phase 3 will see the emergence of new software products and systems that are designed and developed from the outset to be delivered as Web services. These will be used by organizations to find business partners dynamically, or to use remote resources, and will enable those organizations to adapt rapidly to change.

As previously discussed, the adoption of Web services from a technical perspective is not complex. Many of these XML Web services specifications are automatically generated using integrated development environment (IDE) Web services products from many vendors. The real challenge, however, will be associated with new business models that will emerge to support Web services during Phase 2 for wide business use in Phase 3. There are several questions that need to be addressed (see http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/library/ws- arc5/) :

  • What revenue models will be applicable for the service?
  • How does the service provider address pricing?
  • Does the service provider host the service or outsource the hosting?
  • How is billing handled?

New terminology is emerging to describe this new environment. IBM has suggested the following terms. (See http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/library/ws-arc4/.) Similar terms are also emerging from Microsoft and others.

Asset owner is the person or entity that owns a particular Web service and the associated intellectual property pertaining to the software resource.

Hosted service providers are a type of asset owner. Business entities in this category are usually companies that have a software asset that has been enabled for Web services, have selected a business-model-like subscription and now need a deployable environment to be hosted and managed. This role is best suited for small independent software vendors who prefer to delegate the actual hosting aspects of the service to an entity that is more adept at managing the infrastructure and quality of service issues associated with such a role.

Independent service providers are another type of asset owner. Business entities in this category are usually companies that wish to establish their own environments for Web services and maybe even create a private UDDI node to publish those services to the Web. This role is best suited for enterprise customers.

Service consumer is the requesting application or another service provider playing the role of an aggregator that will consume at least one fee-based software service (function/operation).

Service broker is a role that could possibly be addressed by two companies. The first could be any business entity interested in exploring the opportunities around directory services or yellow pages for reusable software components. The second would be a vendor who can provide the necessary UDDI and hosting assets needed to provide a public UDDI service (green pages).

Service provider is the person or entity that is actually implementing the hosting environment for the asset owner. The service provider may be the same as the asset owner, as in the case of an independent service provider. A service provider is the entity that is responsible for the deployment environment and provisioning aspects related to making a fee-based Web service available for sale. [Microsoft tends to use the term service operator.]

Software asset mall (SAM) is a business entity that provides deployment and hosting facilities for two or more asset owners (hosted service providers). In such a case, the operator of the mall will collect revenue based on a combination of possible (but not exhaustive) service fees: hosting charges, transaction surcharges and access registration. A utility server is also necessary to meet the deployment and provisioning needs of a SAM.

IBM suggests an extensive list of enabling services associated with this terminology. These address: security, key management, transformation, logging, clock, calendar, authorization control, user management, tax calculator, credit check, payment services, account management, billing, fulfillment, order management, currency conversion, service credentialing and metering service, to name a few. IBM discusses each of these services at http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/library/ws-arc6/.

The XMethods Web site provides a public list of Web services at http://www.xmethods.com/. This lists several hundred Web Services that are already available and based on SOAP, with direct links to each asset owner. Each service name link and description provides the full invocation details needed by each SOAP message, plus coding instructions and examples.

A UDDI browser is available from http://www.soapclient.com/uddisearch.html. This provides a very easy online search capability directly from a browser, without any programming. A service operator can be selected between XMethods, Microsoft and IBM, or separate Microsoft or IBM UDDI Test Registries. This supports searching for: UDDI business names, service names, service types (tModel), SOAP services (tModel), discovery URL, DUNS code, ISO 3166 codes and others. This UDDI browser will enable you to gain an appreciation of some of the many Web Services that are becoming available. Both Microsoft and IBM also provide a number of UDDI development tools, including UDDI editors, UDDI publishing tools, WSDL editors and WSDL generators.

Many software vendors are developing products and tools to support Web services. Over the coming months, I will discuss some of the major Web services IDE tool vendors.

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