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Service-oriented development is finally realizing the promise of component-based development. The additional layers of abstraction, the registry concept, and the implementation of standards are paying off. Rather than settling on a single product and platform for application development, organizations can choose best of breed with much less risk.

Web services have been touted as the method for providing application-to-application communication for electronic business. However, crucial to the adoption of e-business are efforts such as RosettaNet, ebXML, and other consortium efforts that provide the necessary message semantics for an industry. In the short term, the intraorganization need for application integration can be met through Web services. EAI vendor and application providers are adding direct Web services support to their products, and organizations can easily service-enable existing legacy applications with these new tools.

Service development is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Some organizations will develop simple services and composite services on application servers such as J2EE. When existing applications must be integrated, messaging-oriented middleware platforms play a significant role. An organization beginning the transformation to a services-based environment must focus on several areas. It must understand its current environment and its desired future state. It must then build a platform for service execution, management, and development customized for its needs.

J2EE is the ideal platform for implementing Web services. Web services provide interoperability, and Java and J2EE provide portability. Combining these two technologies can optimize flexibility, which greatly enhances an organization's ability to respond to change.

The computer software and hardware industries have never rallied around a single set of technologies for interoperability before Web services. It is difficult to predict how successful their efforts will be. However, it is clear that Web services will have a significant impact on the future of computing.

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