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Characterizing Your Project

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Characterizing Your Project

Before you try to select a product, you first need to understand the requirements of your project. Are you developing a new application, or extending an existing application? Is the application for internal or external use (or both)? Are you building a corporate application, or will you sell the application to others? Will you sell it as packaged software, or as a service? Which programming languages will you use? Which operating systems will the service run on? Will it run on a server, or do you prefer to embed it in an application or device? If it will be server-based, what Web server or application server do you prefer to use? What about the client environment? Keep in mind that you may implement your clients using a different Web service platform from the one you use to implement your servers.

In particular, you need to characterize the environment that will host your Web service. Technically, a Web service is simply an interface to an application. The application runs in a specific environment, which I refer to as its operating platform. You must find a Web services platform that fits with this operating platform.

Your operating platform is an amalgam of infrastructure technologies. Even if you have the luxury of writing a brand new application from scratch, you will probably need to link the application with many parts of your existing operating platform. Key components of your operating platform are as follows:

  • Operating system

  • Programming language

  • Web server

  • Application server

  • Database server

  • Directory server

  • Security infrastructure

  • Management infrastructure

  • Workflow systems

  • Business rule engines

  • Transaction management infrastructure

You also need to consider a number of nontechnical factors. What is your budget? Do you have existing license agreements with certain vendors? Do you prefer integrated solutions or best of breed? How does your company feel about working with startups? How does your company feel about open source? These factors can definitely affect your product selection.

Appendix B provides a questionnaire that can help you characterize the key attributes of your project. These attributes will help you understand your requirements, which in turn will help you determine which products best fit your project.

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