Web services are remotely hosted and managed applications whose capabilities can be accessed programmatically by client applications via an addressable URL.
The core Web services platform, consisting of SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI, provides the means for building distributed applications based on industry standard technologies, interfaces, and protocols.
The core Web services platform does not provide all of the necessary capabilities on which to build enterprise systems. Additional technologies are being developed and are being standardized that can be layered on top of the core platform and provide support for security and authentication, transactions, mobile and wireless access, quality-of-service, workflows, conversations, systems and service management, as well as interactive applications and Web portals.
Web services are important and different from other distributed computing environments because they are based on industry standards that are nearly ubiquitous. This allows unprecedented interoperability between applications as well as companies and supports anybody-to-anybody applications.
The adoption of Web services within enterprises will require fundamental changes to IT organizations that are responsible for deploying and maintaining enterprise systems. In an effort to maintain control over enterprise systems within a Web services environment, IT will take on a more strategic role that is aligned with individual business units and become part of the business decision process.