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Eight ways Web services will change administrators' lives

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

Luckily today's Web server administrators get paid much more than $6 an hour for babysitting services, like many teenagers do. A fatter paycheck may be the only solace, however, because administrators will have to spend more time monitoring Web servers once Web services roll out.

Web services are still mostly a mystery to administrators and industry experts alike, however. Even more enigmatic is the question of how Web services will work once .NET gets off the ground. Without many Microsoft Web services products yet available, it is difficult to predict how the average Web server administrator can expect to encounter Web services on a day-to-day basis.

So, searchWindowsManageability gathered a basic checklist designed to help Web server administrators see more clearly how Web services will affect them. We also found some advice on how administrators should work with Web services to be the most successful. We recently spoke to Gartner Group research director, Rob Batchelder, and Web services expert and searchWebServices columnist, Preston Gralla, to create this list.

  1. Web services as "transaction pipelines."
    Web server administrators will have a much better way to track and interpret online transactions using Web services, Batchelder said. The transactional information will come in through a portal and flow to the appropriate parts of the organization. More instrumentation and documentation will be available, too, he said.

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  1. Humans even more in the loop.
    Don't compare Web services to the cartoon show The Jetson's, Batchelder advised. You won't be able to just punch a button and an endless amount of data will magically appear. So, to harness the power of the Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) language, much data interpretation will have to take place by administrators.
    Life may become more stressful, as if it's not already, said Gralla. Web server administrators may need to baby-sit servers even more than they do now. Thousands of people inside large enterprises won't be able to do their work if Web servers crash. Concentrate on backup and security, too, he advised. Outsource management services if you need to.
  2. 24x7 uptime critical.
    Once Web services get on a roll, transactions will be flowing day and night. In case you haven't gathered already, an ever-heightened sense of management will be necessary, said Batchelder. More configuration work will be needed to tie the Web services into the business. More work maintaining and updating UDDI registries, and more work to keep configurations current and dynamic can also be looked forward to, he said.
  3. The evolution of higher standards.
    "If every Web site becomes transactional, standards will become much higher," Batchelder said. Databases will have to become more sophisticated to hold all the data coming in.
  4. Standardize your platform.
    Do you want to run .NET or Java-based Web services? It's probably a good idea to decide, said Gralla, because it will be next to impossible to support both.
  5. Stick with one vendor.
    If you decide to go with Java-based Web services, then get a suite of tools and the server from the same vendor, Gralla said. If you chose .NET, go with all Microsoft products. Tools that tie into the specific server will be the easiest to build, he said.
  6. Seriously check in with security.
    It's still unclear how secure Web services will be and how they will be made secure. Because not much has been announced on this front, financial transactions in particular will be a tricky business. Due to the unclear security measures, financial transactions may stay behind the corporate firewall for a while, Gralla predicted, and they may not ever become available to consumers.
  7. Communication is key.
    Communication will be more necessary then ever. "If Web services are like a gear in a machine, they'll need a lot of oil, in the form of human interaction," Batchelder said. IT departments will be writing the Web services information, so they'll get the queries when something goes wrong. If you want to have your Web sites up 24x7, communicate with your co-workers and staff to fix and maintain your Web servers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

More on Web server administration may be found at: searchWebManagement.com

Look before you leap into Web services


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