Web Services are not distributed objects

Werner Vogel, CTO of Amazon.com has an article which was published a few months ago where we talks about the misconception of how most people think that web services are distributed objects. Here is an excerpt from the article.

The hype surrounding Web services has generated many common misconceptions about the fundamentals of this emerging technology.

Web services are frequently described as the latest incarnation of distributed object technology. This misconception, perpetuated by people from both industry and academia, seriously limits broader acceptance of the true Web services architecture. Although the architects of many distributed and Internet systems have been vocal about the differences between Web services and distributed objects, dispelling the myth that they are closely related appears difficult.

Many believe that Web services is a distributed systems technology that relies on some form of distributed object technology. Unfortunately, this is not the only common misconception about Web services. In this article, I seek to clarify several widely held beliefs about the technology that are partially or completely wrong.

Fundamental Errors: At the International World Wide Web Conference in May 2003, a smart and gifted Internet architect I will call Peter asked me, “Don’t you think Web services will fail like all the other wide-area distributed object technologies that people have tried to build?” I was baffled. How could someone like Peter still view Web services as distributed object technology? Yet, he is not alone in his stubbornness: many developers, architects, managers, and academics still see Web services as the next episode in a saga that includes Corba, DCOM, and remote method invocation (RMI). Web services are distributed systems technologies, but that is where the common ground ends. The only possible relation is that Web services are now sometimes deployed in areas where distributed object applications have failed in the past. Within the distributed technology world, it is probably more appropriate to associate Web services with messaging technologies because they share a common architectural view, although they address different application types.

Given that Web services are based on XML documents and document exchange, we could say their technological underpinning is document-oriented computing. However, exchanging documents is very different from requesting an object’s instantiation, requesting a method’s invocation on the basis of the specific object instance, receiving that invocation’s result in a response, and releasing the object instance after several such exchanges.

I frequently encounter about a dozen other statements that fall into the same basic category. I hear people say, for example, that “Web services are just remote procedure calls for the Internet,” or “You need HTTP to make Web services work.” Before addressing several of the more common misconceptions, we should define a Web service in its purest form in order to begin with a clear model.

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Amit Bahree

This blog is my personal blog and while it does reflect my experiences in my professional life, this is just my thoughts. Most of the entries are technical though sometimes they can vary from the wacky to even political – however that is quite rare. Quite often, I have been asked what’s up with the “gibberish” and the funny title of the blog? Some people even going the extra step to say that, this is a virus that infected their system (ahem) well. [:D] It actually is quite simple, and if you have still not figured out then check out this link – whats in a name?

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