Year

2004

Degree Name

Master of Information and Communication Technology

Department

School of Information Technology and Computer Science - Faculty of Informatics

Abstract

This research is a practical investigation into how education providers can effectively exploit Web Services. The aim is to help IT managers, administrators and developers who are involved in the provision of education to understand the requirements of web services, and to tap their full potential. Such a goal was achieved by analyzing answers to the following questions: 1. Are Web Services expected to become a crucial part of the IT infrastructure for education providers? 2. How can education providers effectively exploit Web Services in practice? Like it or not, it is an indisputable fact that today's education is becoming a profitable industry. Like an enterprise in any other industry, an education provider also faces many challenges. These challenges derive from keeping competitive advantage and satisfying rapidly growing customer demands within a limited budget. Those challenges are typically reflected in the IT (information technology) expenditure of education providers. Advanced e-business strategies require education providers to build an integrated and flexible IT infrastructure. However, education providers often face a heterogeneous computing environment that significantly lacks both interoperability and flexibility. The traditional method of integrating such a heterogeneous computing environment is very expensive, and often, prior investment is lost. Web Services can provide a cost-effective approach to solve many problems of interoperability, as well as providing flexibility for IT infrastructure. Though implementing a kind of loosely coupled integration, Web Services can integrate modern technology with legacy system (eg: the Web with mainframe application), and heterogeneous systems running on different operating system (eg: Windows and UNIX), or written in different programming languages (eg: C++ and Java). In the long run, Web Services will become the basis for a seamless and nearly fully-automated IT infrastructure for conducting e-business. The following investigation into Web Services applications for education providers reveals how Web Services can be used as an important part of the IT infrastructure for education providers. This part of the investigation covers four scenarios, including modernizing legacy applications, a campus portal, a Web Services-enabled learning resource repository, and a Grid Service. It examines how Web Services can be used in these scenarios and what they contribute. It is found that Web services always play a role of middle tier that glues heterogenous systems together. One major attraction of Web Services is that they are easy to learn and use. They are developed on the base of existing technology. Nevertheless, an effective exploitation of the potential of Web Services requires an appropriate effort towards the proper design of business processes and service architectures. Patterns for E-business by IBM is used as the template for proper design of business process and service architecture. Those patterns can help one to rapidly design a service architecture, and apply this to Web Services. An implementation-oriented demonstration is developed to illustrate how to use e-business patterns to design the service architecture for an e-business solution, finally applying it to Web Services.

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