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The Power of Web Services

October 24, 2014 by John Howard

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ITAS logoOne of the less well known, but highly powerful, aspects of ITAS NG is the addition of a Web Services platform. For the uninitiated, web services are a way for one computer system to ‘talk’ to another computer system.

 

Wikipedia describes web services thus;

Web Service is a method of communication between two electronic devices over a network. It is a software function provided at a network address over the web with the service always on as in the concept of utility computing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_service.

But, while it’s nice for computers to be able to chat to each other, where’s the value for your business? Well the value comes in the conversations they have. For example, if your CRM system can talk to ITAS it can automatically update your list of buyers and sellers so they are immediately available for contract creation. If your finance system can send messages about new invoices to ITAS, you will never have to manually enter an invoice again. If ITAS can talk to your risk system, then your risk system will know as soon as a new contract has been created and your risk exposure can be automatically calculated.

But just like the human race, your applications probably speak different languages. This is where the power of Web Services adds value. They provide an interface between different systems which is language agnostic. To dive a little deeper, although web services are not part of the application they still depend on it. In fact, they are said to ‘expose’ a system’s functionality. The system who wishes to interact is said to ‘consume’ the first system’s web services. So, taking one of the above examples ITAS could expose a ‘Create Buyer’ Web Service and the CRM system would consume the service every time a new customer is added in the CRM system to tell ITAS to create a new buyer.

But Web Services can go even further. The entity that consumes the web service does not need to be a system; it could be an interface, or a workflow, an end point or just about anything that can make a request including a web browser such as Chrome or Internet Explorer.

When we start to think about the possibilities of putting a web browser on top of ITAS Web Services things start to really heat up. Imagine a Web Service which exposes the creation of a contract. Add a browser on top and suddenly you can:

  • Create a contract in a web browser without having to open ITAS
  • Create a contract using an Ipad or even a mobile phone
  • Expose the web page on the internet (securely of course) and you can create a contract from home, from a warehouse, a cocoa plantation or anywhere in the world.

Taking it even further, the flexibility comes not only from how you access the ‘create contract’ page, but also from which fields you decide to make available. Since it is the web page that controls what the user sees, you can easily decide to show only Counterparty fields, traffic fields, the Terms and Period fields or the Product fields.

It then becomes a simple logical leap to create multiple pages with different fields and expose the pages, and therefore different fields, to separate users or groups. You could have one group of users who create the contract and add the product, another to add the Terms and Period and another still to manage the quality or update the status. And all this functionality can be accessed and used in the field or in a warehouse, without ever opening ITAS.

We are really excited about the capability that the power of Web Services will add to ITAS. We predict a bright future for forward thinking, progressive Commodity Trading organisations who embrace this powerful possibility. So far we have delivered a handful of Web Services looking at areas such as User Authorisation, FandO Creation and Service Healthcheck. We are working on Positions and PnL soon and have already made progress with Invoicing.

If you have an idea for exposing a particular aspect of ITAS via a web service please leave a reply at the bottom of this news article or head over to our Commodity Trading Forum at https://itas.uservoice.com and click “I have an idea for ITAS” (no registration needed).

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