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Books in Brief: Web services from a business perspective: A review of “Web Services: A Manager’s Guide”

Techies quickly become enamored of a new technology if it will let them do cool, new things. That’s certainly true of Web services. What techies are not so quick to figure out, however, is whether or not a new technology, such as Web services, makes good business sense. That question is one reason why many managers will buy “Web Services: A Manager’s Guide.”

So, do Web services make good business sense? Author Anne Thomas Manes gives it a resounding “Yes.” She not only describes the basic technology of Web services, but also shows why using this technology makes good business sense. In the very first chapter, she compares Web services to other middleware technologies and makes the case that development costs are lower and the code more reusable for Web services than for other middleware technologies.

The next few chapters of the book are devoted to how Web services work. Manes describes how Web services use XML, WSDL, UDDI and SOAP to help you integrate applications. There are also sections on security standardization efforts and management standardization efforts. These two areas are crucial if Web services are to be widely adopted.

After all this tech talk, Manes gets down to business, literally. Chapter 6 discusses when to use Web services and when not to use Web services. She cautions, for example, that while XML is very versatile, it isn’t compact, which makes it inefficient for transferring large amounts of data.

Manes also includes a discussion of some of the platforms that exist to support Web services, such as Microsoft’s .NET and Java. Following that, there’s a discussion of Web services development tools and a method for evaluating them.

What I liked most about this book is the healthy dose of skepticism Manes has about Web services. For example, in several places throughout the book she’s quick to throw water on the “software-as-service” business model. She notes that while ASPs were all the rage in the late 1990s, very few of them are still in business today. It’s that kind of balance that makes this book a good choice for those of you thinking about using Web services for your application.

Web Services: A Manager’s Guide” by Anne Thomas Manes. Addison-Wesley, Boston, Mass. 2003.


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Click here to read an excerpt from this book, or click here to buy this book from Amazon.com.

About the Author

Dan Romanchik is an engineering manager turned writer and Web developer. His current passion is amateur radio. You can read his amateur radio blog at www.blurty.com/~kb6nu.

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