What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

Web Services - Hot Technologies to Boost Career Opportunities

February 17, 2017

All Industry giants - IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle, along with other uprising tech companies amazingly agree that the web services technologies are changing the game of IT services. We don’t see this kind of agreement very often in this industry. When the concept of web service was introduced, people talked about it as another over-hyped trend. Now the web Services technology is real, with a lot of implementations in various systems.

What Makes Web Services So Hot

It’s the big promise - The web services technology is able to transform the way companies conduct business and communicate. This transformation is significant enough to let this technology dominate the IT industry. As Bill Gates of Microsoft once stated in early times, “Web services are the key to productivity that will span the entire economy.” The staging of web services are bring revolution and innovation in every aspect of business and communication.

The Inside of Web Services

Web services standardize the way of connecting disparate applications, systems, and devices over the Internet. There are 4 primary standards:

  1. XML (Extensible Markup Language)
  2. SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)
  3. UDDI (Universal Description Discovery and Integration)
  4. WSDL (Web Services Description Language)

Based on these standards, we can build the web services model with interoperability, that means consumers, business partners, customers, and others would all communicate and exchange data seamlessly, no matter what the device or platform.

The web services technology has passed the early stages of development; it is progressing to expand its opportunities. It may be hard to say when it will be mature; maybe never. There are more details in the standards to settle and interoperability issues to deal with. As IT vendors are investing huge capitals to build platforms, make development tools, and specify common interoperability standards, the web services technology will keep advancing in exponential rate.

Web Services in the Career Path

The evolving of web services is making a big impact on IT professionals and IT careers. For most of us - developers, programmers, architects, system administrators and others, it is a wonderful opportunity for career boosting. As we see, lot of business systems are building on web services technology, meaning a lot of projects and a lot of jobs. The potential for long-term growth is very promising in this area.

IT professionals, especially developers, system integrators, and data architects should plan to get involved in Web services. In the near future, more of the major development projects will be constructed using the Web services paradigm. Thus, like it or not, you’ll have to face this technology. You’d better begin to prepare for it now. Here’s what you can do for planning your career path with web services:

1. Familiarize yourself with these 4 key standards that we discussed above. Get a deep understanding on XML and SOAP.

2. Obtain skills on web services platforms. You should specify your web service expertise on either .NET platform or Java platform.

3. Read couple of technical books in your spare time. There are tons of books on this topic - .NET web services, Java EE web services, XML, SOAP, etc.

4. Learn to use web services development tools and management tools made by leading web services vendors - IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle.

5. Download and install one or two web services development tool kits from top-tier web services vendors and play with them to get hands-on experience.

6. Look for job opportunities in major web services tool and platform vendors and join their teams to build the web services world.

7. Look for job opportunities in startup companies with focus on web services related products and services.

8. Watch for new web services projects within your organization. Ask for joining the project by offering your knowledge and expertise.

What Skills Do You Need to Jumpstart Web Services Projects

The exciting Web services technology promises to allow disparate computer systems and applications to communicate and interoperate. That’s a big deal in IT industry. As this technology is constantly progressing, you should start to prepare yourself for this technology. When this technology reaches it peak, you should be ready to handle web services projects with enough knowledge and skills.

To start working on web services, you must have good knowledge and skills on the platform. A web services project is either Microsoft .NET based or Java EE based. The choice between .NET and J2EE is always in debate. Web services developers usually prefer the one that can extend skills already developed from working with Microsoft tools or the Java platform.

Both .Net and Java web services technologies are evolving and changing quickly, but you can start to build fundamental skills. If you decide to go with .NET, you should learn .NET framework and Visual Studio.NET tools. If you prefer Java, you should make yourself good at Java EE technology.

Web services implement same standards that you must understand no matter what type of platform you work with. As web services technology takes the stage in the IT world, implementing those standards will become a part of the basic skills for software developers. The web services standards contains four building blocks:

XML (Extensible Markup Language): The structured language for identifying data under Web services. XML is the underlying technology enabling other Web services standards to function.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): The messaging protocol for exchanging information in a Web services environment.

WSDL (Web Services Description Language): The language used to describe the specific services being offered.

UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration): A registry of business services and products designed to enable companies to find and exchange resources.

I recommend that you learn these four web services standards and enhance the fundamental skills in .NET or J2EE. That would make you stay ahead of the move. Sooner or later, IT professionals will have to deal with Web services. In today’s competitive job market, having the knowledge of cutting-edge technologies could make a difference.

The Big Three IT Vendors Fighting for the Share of Web Services Market

Web Services is one of the most promising new technologies today in IT industry. While this technology is continuously progressing, big IT players have jumped to the market to grab a share. These top players are Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle.

1. Microsoft

Systems integrators love Microsoft’s new hot technology - the .NET framework that fully support web services standards. According to Gartner’s survey of 44 consulting and systems-integration vendors in North America, Microsoft .Net was targeted by 58% of the systems integrators.

2. IBM

IBM, with 40% of the web services market, makes one of the top web services products to ramp up delivery capability. IBM WebSphere Software Development Kit for Web Services (WSDK) offers an integrated kit for creating, discovering, invoking, and testing Web services. The following components are included in WSDK:

1. An embedded version of IBM WebSphere Application Server with additional support for ORB and EJBs.

2. Support for the latest SOAP, WSDL, UDDI, JAX-RPC, EJB, Enterprise Web Services (JSR), WSDL4J, UDDI4J, and WS-Security.

3. A private UDDI registry.

4. An entry-level database providing a JDBC implementation.

5. IBM SDK for Java Technology.

6. Tools to publish JavaBeans and stateless session EJBs as Web services, create Web services from WSDL definitions, and publish, or unpublish Web services to a UDDI registry.

7. Samples showing how to publish JavaBeans and stateless session EJBs as Web services, create Web services from WSDL definitions, publish, unpublish, and lookup Web services using UDDI, and create secure Web services using the WS-Security specification.

8. Comprehensive documentation including Web services concepts, developer tasks, and reference materials.

3. Oracle

Oracle came in third at about 31% of the market. Oracle9iAS provides a complete and integrated framework for developing, deploying, and managing Web services. Oracle Application Server (AS) Web Services supports the development of Web services using Java classes, Stateless and Session EJBs, and PL/SQL. It aggregates Web services into both enterprise and wireless portals. Also, it integrates with other Web services, databases, legacy systems, and enterprise applications. Oracle AS can personalizing Web services and consumes XML or HTML streams as Web services. It supports SOAP, UDDI, and WSDL standards.

Through the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle now owns Sun’s technology which integrates web services with J2EE that allows Enterprise Java developers to develop, integrate, and deploy Java 2EE API like EJB along with Web services specifications such as WSDL and UDDI. The former Sun had developed sophisticated meta tag method for allowing Web services and JSP developers to use tags to build enterprise applications using or incorporating complex enterprise Java API such as EJB and JMX.

Another former web services player, BEA, is also owned by Oracle now. BEA implemented the Web Services standards into the product platform including SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI in addition to its leadership role in standards bodies. Oracle WebLogic (formerly BEA’s) provides the programming model, architecture, security, and transaction support that allow developers, Java EE experts, and application developers build, deploy, manage, and integrate enterprise-class Web services.

Technologies and Competition

Microsoft builds web services technology on its .NET framework, whereas IBM and Oracle (including formerly Sun and BEA) support Java EE web services platform. Web services with both .NET and Java platform are based on XML.

IBM is the giant who has the cash to compete with Microsoft head to head. They both are taking the lead in Web services as the innovators and driving forces behind most of the Web services specifications we see from the W3C and others, including SOAP. Sun and BEA as the major players used to the products and tools to compete with Oracle in J2EE based web services market, but they lost.

Java based web services platform is attractive to larger enterprises that are more likely to have mainframe legacy applications and are turning to Java EE to layer on Web services atop the infrastructure. Java EE is more popular in large-scale activities such as enterprise resource planning,

Microsoft’s .Net targets mid-market and smaller companies that can start with a clean slate. They find .Net more attractive and are most likely to use it for Web services related to E-commerce. Of course, the choice between .Net and Java EE is just a matter of preference regarding the infrastructure that’s already in place, as well as comfort level, and costs.

Last update: 02/17/2017. First published: August 18, 2006