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August 29, 2006


Rashid Z. Muhammad

The real benefit of web services isn't really apparent by what companies like Google and Amazon do. It's in the unprecedented ability for systems to interoperate, which is mainly a concern in businesses having to integrate their systems with those of disparate vendors, manufacturers, and clients.

From where I'm standing (in an enterprise with said countless disparate systems - and add government systems to the mix), there is no question whatsoever of their value unless utility is determined by present availability which is limited - but most vendors are currently working on implementations.

I'm not sure what you mean by integrating ERP at the "web level" with respect to web services. The only thing that is "web" about the service is the provider. Many people simply use proxy classes to consume the provided functionality, and they can do that from pretty much any environment with OO underpinnings. I'm not an ERP expert (yet), but I doubt that their ability to interact with a web service would be limited to the web level as we're essentially talking about an Internet medium.

As for web programmers and their habits, this might be true for the guys from the model 1 J2EE and ASP classic days, but these days (in the .NET and J2EE worlds at least) waaaay more thought is put into building scalable decoupled systems. As a matter of fact, the only real differences these days is in the presentation layer as pretty much every other component of the modern non-trivial web app uses the same plumbing as the fat stuff.

Lastly, there will always be fewer web browsers then there are operating system, hardware driver, and installed software combinations - even if you factor in all of the plugins and wonky toolbars that abound. Two of the apps that you mention are apps that are intrinsically tied to the desktop. The Google desktop app needs access to the local filesystem and so does iTunes - along with the CD ROM. Turbotax, on the other hand, is tailor-made for the web, and the piracy issue that got Intuit in trouble a few years ago almost gurantees that this is where things will eventually go there. I guess some developers see AJAX as a way to ease that transition. I personally think that it's overrated, but I can't deny that some pretty compelling products have shown up over the past year or so. The online spreadsheets out now are much better than I ever thought they would be.

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