I just returned from Orlando where I attended the East Coast Region Architects Forum. As part of this event Pat Helland gave the opening keynote presentation on Web services. Pat is an excellent speaker and provides a good description on how we got to where we are now and where we are headed. He compares the growth of systems as the rise of towns. With the building of infrastructure, manual work or manufacturing, to standardization.
Pat's presentation provided a good tool to communicate to executive management what we as architects already know. You can learn more about Pat's thoughts from an interview provided by TheServerSide.Net.
Me, I've been a Web guy since the days when Netscape rocked and Microsoft didn't have a clue about the Web. Look how it changed now. ;-) Web services, and of course .Net has provide a new burst of passion in me for developing Web applications.
We need to build an SOA in order to grow and compete. There will be new markets created with SOA for those who understand it and can take advantage of opportunities.
Currently the biggest gain for building an SOA is the integration of disparate systems. The next piece is to provide services to the outside world. We will need standards in order to accomplish this, but standards will come.
Eventually systems will provide services to various applications on the Web that specialize in specific areas. Who knows what that will be? We will need to understand and realize that this is where this technology is headed; seamless integration across systems providing some functionality to various applications. My app provides some service to your application, you pay me a fee for using my service, I then focus my business on optimizing the service providing you with a service that you could possibly not provide on your own at the same cost. Outsourced code.
Companies will access their ERP systems as orders come in, their systems will call another service at the fulfillment company, raw materials will be replenished for their inventories by another service being called to the supplier. On and on.
Who knows, my refrigerator will check to see if I need milk and then call a Web service to my store to let them know, I then walk in with my groceries sitting at the counter.
Maybe an engineering company who manufactures parts will take in engineering specs like velocity, tension, etc, then return a specification back to the calling application. The engineering company then provides their knowledge to large OEMs.
Knowledge bases created and maintained which are then called by various applications over the Web. You can already see MS putting out services like MapPoint, how many other databases will be exposed as a Web service?
The Web has definitely grown beyond the basic user browsing a Web page. Let's see where the next ten years take us.