... sliced bread? FM Stereo? Coffee? All joking aside, I continue to be amazed at how SOAP/XML is transforming the way applications are developed and deployed. I get to speak with customers nearly every day that are constructing fascinating Web services applications more quickly and effectively because of the loosely-coupled, rapid development options available to them. To think that disparate systems, built on different hardware/software platforms, with different tools and languages, can communicate in common terms is profound. Every previous attempt at similar capabilities was either too complex, closed to a subset of platforms, or did not offer sufficient reach that IP provides.

At F5, we're direct beneficiaries of this. For the first time in our industry, software applications can “see” and “interact” with our high performance, hardened network devices AS IF they were a software application through native Web services. Our iControl API (which happens to support standard WSDL to facilitate development with virtually any standard toolset... Visual Studio.NET, JDeveloper, Eclipse, etc.) talks on common terms that software applications natively understand. Compared with archaic SNMP MIBs and other clumsy approaches (i.e. “hacks“, IMHO), I still do not understand why other vendors haven't caught on...

That said, I'm fascinated by the many types of devices that will gradually become SOAP aware or Web services enabled. What kinds of wild items will have a WSDL file that defines what you can do with it from a software application? How about robotic assembly tools for building cars and airplanes? Weather monitoring buoys in the middle of the ocean? Satellites? A toaster, refrigerator, or home alarm system? What do you think? I'd like to hear about it. Drop me an email or post a comment!