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Enabling Services

The success of Web services requires that many utility services become commoditized, so that each organization is not responsible for developing its own. Service providers will have to have these services in their catalog of offerings and are required for fee-based Web services. Let's say your organization has developed a strong portfolio-management Web service but wants to outsource its infrastructure to a Web services hosting provider. As the owner of the service, you will require the hosting provider to have services that support functionality such as billing, metering, provisioning, and security.

Table 16.6 lists some of the services your service provider should offer, either through local access or by remotely aggregating other providers' services. These enabling services could become business opportunities for the right software vendor. Enabling services are also part of the criteria for developing fee-based Web services. Fees are necessary to sell software as a service. Enabling services are the foundation of that goal.

Table 16.6: Enabling Services




User authentication, authorization, encryption, signing, and nonrepudiation services

Key management

Support for digital certificates and other forms of public/private key infrastructures


A general-use logging service, where activities can be recorded and categorized (e.g. . critical, audit, diagnostic)


The ability to make sure all services used are synchronized


The ability to transform incoming and outgoing data between formats such as ebXML, EDI, industry-standard XML, and so on

User management

The ability to add, modify, suspend, and delete users and their attributes

Credit check

The ability to validate a user's creditworthiness


Support for capturing differing payment instruments (credit cards, checks, Pay Pal, etc.) and reconciling with accounts receivable


The ability support real-time currency conversion


The ability to associate user accounts with fee-per-use plans for particular services

Order management

Support for tracking service requests. This could include items such as purchase order handling. Should also handle requests that can be fulfilled asynchronously.


A generic fulfillment service may be required. This could be a simple as delivering an email for electronic products to interfacing with shipping companies such as FedEx or DHL.

Bill presentment

Users of services are moving toward a household model, whereby charges from different parties are aggregated into a single statement. The bill presentment service could also become a fee-based service.

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