Software shop sees web services as low-cost option

Software development house RHE has settled on a solution using web services as the least costly option for a large Wellington organisation.

Software development house RHE has settled on a solution using web services as the least costly option for a large Wellington organisation.

RHE’s customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, has to communicate a range of messages to a large number of people with a variety of disparate systems.

The organisation hasn’t defined all the different types of messages it will use. They could be electronic or web forms or other forms of message. The application producing the messages will have to be integrated with a range of back-end systems.

In designing a solution, RHE believes using web services technology will be more cost-effective than any bespoke solution it could think of.

“The application is naturally suited to the use of web services,” says RHE group development manager John Valentine. “It will be easy to build the client side because the tools have all been bundled in Visual Studio .Net so you can build web services out of the box. BEA and Borland have also bundled web services tools which has led to the ability to do the technology piece very easily and in a more standard way.”

Valentine sees adherence to standards— thus allowing for interoperability — as the main benefit of web services. The other is that it “componentises” application development. “Components can reside together in a seamless way and interoperate no matter [which vendor] provided the technology to build them or what they run on.”

Valentine says the benefit of using web services for the Wellington customer will be the delivery of an extensible infrastructure.

“We know the customer wants to extend it out so we will put in place channels which won’t be used this time but which are inherently web services. This should reduce the cost of producing many more types of forms or messages in future. The more we can componentise messages and forms the easier it will be to develop new ones that have been adapted to use by various clients.”

But Valentine says web services aren’t suited to everyone and warns against organisations becoming “fashion victims” trying to use the latest technology just for the sake of it. The two main drawbacks are that web services haven’t yet stabilised on security and don’t guarantee delivery.

“I could build you one in 20 minutes and it would work beautifully on an internal intranet, but I wouldn’t risk it on the open internet. There are some standards [such as security] that have yet to evolve, but I think it will happen very quickly.”

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