Build Your Own Web Services Value Added Network

My latest InfoWorld article is about Flamenco Network's Web Services Manager (WSM):

A cursory review of WSM's features and architecture wouldn't distinguish it greatly from a number of other WSI products. But WSM's heritage as a VAN means it's got flexibility in its blood. This will come in especially handy for enterprises that expect significant future growth and want their Web services to expand with demand. National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), for example, used WSM to create a Web services interface to its system for verifying student records. NSC currently services thousands of higher education institutions, but envisions selling verification services to HR departments across the country, a market that could eventually reach the hundreds of thousands.

My conclusion after looking at numerous Web services intermediaries (WSI) over the past year is that they are all different in some significant ways, but you'd never know that from just looking at the feature lists on the spec sheet. What really set Flamenco Networks WSM apart in my mind was a combination of two factors:

  1. Self-provisioning for Web services partners
  2. You own the network

The first is important if you envision conducting Web services transactions with more than a couple of dozen partners. You probably don't want to hire enough people to maintain a network of hundreds or thousands of partners in the absence of this feature. The second is vitally important to some companies, and doesn't rate a passing nod from others.