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This book provides an overview of Web services. Its purpose is to help you make more informed decisions about adopting Web services in your company.

Unlike most books you’ll find on the subject, this guide is written for managers and not for engineers. I’ve tried to limit the use of computer jargon and acronyms. I don’t assume that you know how to write software. I do assume that you are familiar with the way businesses use software.

I present the technology in business terms. I’ve tried to cut through the hype by presenting both the advantages and the disadvantages of this technology. My goal is to help you understand how Web services can benefit your business. I’ve identified tactical and strategic projects in which Web services offer the greatest advantages. You will find the information in this book helpful when trying to cost-justify a project.

It seems that nearly every hardware and software vendor is touting a Web services strategy. I’ve made an effort to present the technology in a completely vendor-neutral fashion. I also provide some guidelines that you can use to help you evaluate and select a Web services technology provider.

Information about Web services standards and vendor products is current as of this writing. I will publish periodic status updates on my Web site. Please visit http://www.bowlight.net.

If you’re planning a Web services project, you should read this book thoroughly. If you want only a basic introduction to Web services, read the first two chapters. If you already feel comfortable with the basics and you want more specific information about Web services applications or vendor offerings, you can read selective chapters. You can also skim the book by scanning the “fast track” summary in the outer margin and then selectively drilling down into specific sections.

I’ve found it impossible to discuss this technology without using some jargon and acronyms. To minimize confusion, I include a number of Executive Summaries of key concepts throughout the book. I also provide a Glossary, which has definitions for all terms that appear in boldface throughout the book.

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