Web services are the foundation for all this work in application integration, but we're only beginning to see the benefits of Web services. Web services differ from past integration technologies because of the standard way that program APIs are exposed. Exposed APIs allow for interoperability, but just as important is the ability to bolt new functionality onto existing applications. Web services create an abstraction layer where applications are seen as black-box nodes on a network. Data and transaction streams are seen as application layer messages on the network. These messages can be conditioned, filtered, and modified in real time as they flow between these nodes. [Full story at InfoWorld...]
I think there's a larger story here about Application Layer Internetworking and its eventual effects on how Web Services are used and what services are built. The story is going to take more than a short analysis piece to tell however.
As I related in this article, there's a distinction between "conversion," doing what we do today differently, and "exploitation," doing innovative things that we couldn't do without Web Services. Most early uses of Web Services are going to be in the conversion category, but the really interesting stuff, in my opinion, is in the exploitation category. I don't think we've begun to envision the changes that standard interfaces and routable messages will bring.