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Advancement in technology especially in the Information and Communication Technology, ICT has significantly influenced how businesses are run. The opportunities availed through IT and internet use has fastened business platform making the world a global village. Such ideas like business process outsourcing are just examples of opportunities created by ICT to capture the niche market at the global context. In order to facilitate modern business platform and match other competitors, the corporate world should entice web services and develop business processes that enable achievement of this concept. The idea of web services has been collectively supported by end users (corporate world) and available technology developed by researchers and inventors. Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) have been backed with since they comply with the set standards in the field. Simple Object Access Protocol also known as SOAP is the global standard used as guidelines to web services development that support business processes. “The World Wide Web Consortium runs a working group defining a set of standards in this area. XML (Extensible Markup Language) Protocol is based on input collected from vendors and early adopters of this technology.”
The development of web services to run business processes may either be a complex procedure that brings together software and computer applications or just a simple concept depending on the business process to be web based. Generally development of web services mainly covers three aspects: services description to properly bring into play business processes to which formatting plays a crucial part, organized services for easy follow up by those who use the services, and innovation of registered services in order to comply with set criteria like pricing, timing among others. In the architectural design of web services for business processes, there are three major players. The first is service directory; a port from which all services is and checked for viability and run. Also, in the service directory, maintenance of web services are done. Secondly, there is a service provider whose main role is to package services in the directory for use by an individual. It is in the service provider where entries into the system are made. Lastly, service requestor is he who uses developed web service delivered in the directory. “An example of such a requirement is the price a service requestor is willing to pay for a service. The service directory will thus include taxonomies that facilitate the search, information such as the price or the delivery time,”
Standards developed under SOAP are vital in the definition of the best mechanism to adopt when crossing over from web service to internet. It mainly categorizes a messaging system that is most appropriate for an enhanced communication among the three major players in business process web services. SOAP appropriately singles out Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, HTTP and how it can be used to initiate control mechanism in internet sites. This procedure is aided by use of Remote Procedure Call, RPC from which there is exchange of requirements and ways of satisfying the requirements. Consequently, UDDI will establish what is to be contained in the service directory including which structure to use. There are two sets of information that are provided by UDDI. The first is business credentials that are to be developed into web services; for instance, taxonomies, and the kind of service to be offered. Secondly, UDDI has to ensure that all services are registered by appropriate bodies and up to the required standards.
UDDI sets the structure of in service directory and what should be its components and service types. WSDL is one of the service types that illustrate a web service with the exception of having to meet standardization needs. “A WSDL description of a web service provides information needed to actually invoke it. A port type, the operations that the port type supports, and the structure of the input and output message, describe a particular service in abstract way.” Abstract specification needs to be put into conventional formats and protocols for an effective communication of a service. The bridge to achievement of this feat is binding of information through which SOAP standards can be used to create an HTTP procedure. It is proper if binding information is distinguished from services description for improved flexibility for a requestor. Flexibility in essence is about providing a requestor with ample variety of services for appropriate choice to be made.
Improving Web Services
There are still a number of avenues through which web services can be enhanced for quick service delivery and value addition. Assuming a scenario where a business owner wants to outsource for services, the process has to be made efficient and effective communication hold key to its success. The role of UDDI in this scenario will be to provide potential corporate partners depending on the availability of such services. This case demonstrates that a service provider is not just a onetime encounter but a potential business partner. The service provider has to provide the requestor with ample choices concerning how to meet employ, and maintain effective communication with a potential outsourced employee. In this instance, a Chief Information Officer should make sure UDDI services are multi-faced to counter any pitfalls in service delivery. Use of plug links enables dynamism in communication as it identifies best pairs of operations that are compatible like, a boss sending message to his/her employer and getting feedback at an appropriate time.
After plug linking potential business partners, there should be mutual cooperation and this is not easily achieved in a case where trial of a number of possible channels is not specific. To accurately invoke web services in such a case, a flow model needs to be set up. “A flow model is a directed graph that connects nodes, known as activities, via control links.” Competitions are stiff in modern business environment and corporations need more than just the ordinary service provision if market dominance is to be achieved. Adding value to existing business processes is therefore important. Value addition has been developed though the use of global model. Business services should flow and it is due to this objective that business process models are designed. The initial service of a business process model is to identify relevant steps and duties to be performed an example of which could be ‘place your order’.
Business process flow model require establishment of flow instances by floating data across the flow model arising from carrying out various operations processes. In order to effectively process ideas in a business process flow model, flow instances that have been already used should be deleted. Also, to execute a flow instance, representation of all points should be in a three dimensional space. The following life cycle functions aid in the implementation of flow instances;
a) Call; responsible for initiating flow instance coupled with relevant information concerning the whole dimensions of flow instances. At this stage it is impossible to take back control to a requestor once flow instance is started.
b) Spawn; its function is similar to the call function, the only exception being ability to return control to requestor after initiation of the process. This can be done by either sending a notification that a given instance cannot be performed or by restarting another process.
c) Suspend; brings to a halt flow instance within a stipulated time lapse after which a process can be resumed. However, it should be noted that suspension doesn’t involve activation of nodal system.
d)Resume; when a process is suspended as mentioned above, in order to restore back a flow instance, it is resumed.
e) Inquire; provides a mechanism to ask about a flow instance in regard to how performance is progressing. Such information is displayed once inquiry is made.
f) Terminate; puts a stop to a flow instance or any other running operation.
When a service provider publishes a flow model as a web service (via WSDL), all life-cycle operations become available as operations of the port type that represents the flow model as a web service.” In order to use the service adequately, renaming conventional life-cycle commands is necessary. Also, business activities that require placing request by requestors who are far way should be set up by using subject ports.
Business and web service
In this technological era, the success of any business is strongly pegged on its cutting edge technology. The emergence of web service has revolutionized greatly the game in business. In this regard, the two parties; web services providers and the business community have to work together so as to reap the economies of scale. Web services in business are quite important not only for profitability but also for development and acts as the lifeblood of organizations and institutions. IT systems and networks connect every internal department and links businesses with a myriad of suppliers, partners and markets. Access to high-quality, complete, accurate and up-to-date information makes managerial decision-making relatively easy by reducing the margin for error. Companies in this world of capitalism always want more. They want more profit, more shareholder value, and more market share, among others needs. The realizations of these objectives have been attained through the successful initiation, development and incorporation of web services in business. Indeed, the effective development and web services have become a major priority for all organizations of all sizes in the different industries and markets. However, the efficient management of brands using technology can present challenges, especially in the case where managers are unable to accurately evaluate and assess their brands particular strengths and weaknesses objectively. One major limitation that has been presented in both academic and empirical literature is on how to deal with the multifaceted issue of products development and multi-channel branding, especially where there is the need for reliance on professional retail distributors engaged in the sale and distribution of competing products. In this regards, companies and business enterprises adopt different strategies and web services to ensure that they not only remain competitive but also develop and increase their market share.
According to Ceramin, “the internet has definitely transformed the shape and form of business enterprises simply for the reason that the Internet can be another sales outlet for a company in which customers on-line can purchase products and services”2. Many companies only exist on-line, and for some, the Internet can be a substantial contribution to a company's bottom line. Therefore, with the importance of the Internet as a source of customers, it can not be understated the extent to which it can contribute to the survival of the company.
Business process and web services
A business process involving two or more business partners can be easily realized by composing web services offered by the individual while taking into account constrains and requirements defined for each partner.
The IBM webShere; Java2 platform, Enterprise Edition, provide an efficient environment and basic facilities that are used in the implementation of business component and the tools which enable its web services. The WBI public process gateway supports the realization of the public interface of a service provided by an enterprise. Towards this it enhance selection of business partner and negotiation of interaction with such partners.WBI uses two prominent additional component to bridge the gap between external requests and internal business operations. These include; Information Delivery Manager (IDM) and the Business Flow manager.IDM enhance information exchange between potentially compatible business services mainly through supporting massage based interaction between services through Java.
Threats to the Confidentiality of Web Services
“Web services may be used to transmit sensitive information between Systems and Services and this information may also transverse untrusted networks (e.g. Public Internet) which are exposed to potential malicious activity”2. If the information is deemed valuable by a malicious party it is highly likely it will be targeted for misuse. Information targeted for Confidentiality attacks may be:
Customer Personally Identifiable Information: This may be attractive information for
a malicious party to enable activity such as Identity Theft and Identity Fraud. This information is highly likely to be subject to your local privacy laws.
Valuable Company Intellectual Property: Information such as financial reports and even source code may be attractive to a malicious third party.
Billing/Rating information: In a world where core communications such as VOIP are being extensively used call logs and billing information may be an attractive target for malicious groups.
Mitigating risks to the confidentiality of Web Services
These security controls can mitigate risks to the confidentiality of Web Services:
Domain Isolation/Segregation: Ensuring that components are logically segregated and isolated into different security domains based on levels of trust. This segregation can occur on both the Network and Host. From a Network perspective this may involve the use of firewalls providing stateful packet inspection and network based access controls. Many vendors are offering XML/SOAP based firewalls nowadays that perform deep packet inspection of SOAP communications.
From a Host perspective this may involve the use of virtualization for connectors,
and hosting connectors on infrastructure separate to that of the information system using it.
Use of Strong Cryptographic Controls for Network Communications: “The use of strong cryptographic controls to assure the Confidentiality of Web Service Information transmitted across networks” .According to Taylor, “this involves the use of protocols such as TLS (HTTPS) to provide authenticated and encrypted point to point communications and Web services provide the ability for connectors to use HTTPS as a transport for Web Service information and it is important to ensure that cryptographic processes and algorithms are strong and are not vulnerable to attack”.
Application of appropriate authentication: “The process of establishing and determining the validity of a claimed system or service. Authentication that can be used with web services range from username/passphrases to client and server side certificates and transactions with a high confidentiality requirement may need more than one factor of authentication”
Use of appropriate Access Controls: “Ensuring that Security Controls are implemented to ensure that Web Service Information is made available on a need to know basis and this also includes restricting access via web services to functions on a target host”.
Web services and business enterprises are quite important in the society. This is because they facilitate economic development. Therefore, to ensure that they work and gain economies of scale they need to work together for the benefit of all.