F5's iControl API and Software Development Kit

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The Key to Success with Web Services

The Key to Success with Web Services

Web services provide a way to allow efficient communication between disparate services. For years, enterprises have struggled to find reliable, cost-effective ways to integrate and automate critical processes between different application packages. Web services technology has the potential to answer an enterprise's needs, providing the ability to integrate different systems and application types regardless of platform, operating system, or location.

The key to the success of Web services is the use of a common data exchange standard such as XML. Through the use of this common language, enterprises can create reusable application components (Web services) that can be linked together to cost-effectively create distributed enterprise applications with minimal development efforts.

Vendors continue to design the framework and development environments necessary to build Web services. However, the projected adoption rate is tremendous. According to estimates from Gartner, Web services will represent the "dominant mode of deployment for new application solutions for Fortune 2000 companies" by 2004.

Because Web services could involve millions of users, the need to provide security, high availability, and reliability for these services is critical. To enable Web services to flourish and reduce the high costs and complexity associated with additional application servers, companies must look to network technologies for help. Businesses must consider highly intelligent network products that can quickly process any application or Web service, ensuring quick response times, reliable sessions, adaptive scalability, and application-level security, all through a single network device. Additionally, the products they choose must be flexible to easily handle future applications and protocols while protecting and improving the performance of their application investments. Key challenges include:

  • Increasing reliability: The distributed nature of Web service applications demands a stable and reliable network environment and server infrastructure. With multiple components scattered across geographically dispersed networks, reliable communication and application performance become paramount to deployment success.
  • Improving quality of service: In addition to communication reliability, organizations will need mechanisms to prioritize requests. Requests will need to be intercepted, analyzed, and directed to the proper resource to provide quality of service granularity based upon various organizational business policies.
  • Ensuring high availability: As the demand for Web services increases, the availability of each component within the service and the applications that process the requests will be critical. Key systems and devices that assure Web service availability and validity will be required.
  • Providing scalability: Flexible deployment scenarios will be necessary as demand for Web services increases. Organizations will be required to act quickly to add resources to support Web service requests without interruption.
  • Enhancing performance: The quick adoption rate and ease of deployment of Web services will place increasingly large demands on network infrastructures. Traffic generated by Web services can be significant. For example, a user request for a stock quote might initiate as many as eight related services to perform functions to serve that user's request. In total the entire transaction could require thirty to forty related requests.
  • Increasing application security: The need to secure applications without sacrificing performance is extremely important. Enterprises must offload intensive SSL processing from application servers, allowing them to handle the explosion of performance demands required in a Web services environment.
  • Increasing network security: When designing their Web services infrastructure, organizations are challenged with finding traditional network devices and tools that increase reliability and provide an extra layer of security. Network devices need flexible, comprehensive, and secure feature sets to increase control over network traffic and protect the organization from existing and future attacks.

    Enterprises should look for products that provide enterprises the ability to switch, persist, and filter any type of Web service based upon content encapsulated in the header or payload of a packet. The resulting benefits of this capability are extremely significant, allowing businesses to support the complex security and high availability requirements of today's Web services - making them simpler to implement and maintain while dramatically increasing operational efficiencies and cost savings.

  • More Stories By Jeff Browning

    As Product Manager for F5 Networks, Jeff is responsible for driving the product and marketing strategy for F5's iControl API and Software Development Kit. With over 10 years of software industry experience, Jeff's extensive background in Web services, Enterprise Portals, and Software Development tools at leading companies like Microsoft and DataChannel helps bridge the gap between networking technologies and Web services applications for better performing, scalable, and secure enterprise solutions

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