Many new opportunities arise due the flexibility of the Web services model. Since Web service interfaces are specified in a language-neutral fashion, they significantly ease the integration of systems in a standards-based way, across platforms, languages, transport protocols and applications. The Web services architecture is also explicitly designed to support intermediaries - third parties that can look at the messages and add value. For example, an intermediary might be configured to validate security credentials before the message is delivered to the destination's service. Another intermediary might be tasked with localization conversions, effectively alleviating the developers from having to handle this task in the service itself. The content of a Web service message is documented by its interface definition.
Web services also provide another opportunity to add a great deal of value without writing code. Because XML messages come with rich payloads of information, you can leverage the content of the messages to do many interesting new things--such as additional security measures or content-based routing.
This was first published in September 2002