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Introducing SkatesTown

SkatesTown is a small but growing business in New York founded by three mechanically inclined friends with a passion for cars and skateboards. They started by designing and selling custom pre-built boards out of Dean Carroll's garage, and word soon spread about the quality of their work. They came up with some innovative new construction techniques, and within months they had orders piling up. Now SkatesTown has a small manufacturing operation in Brooklyn, and the company is selling boards, clothing, and equipment to stores around the city. Dean, Frank Stemkowski, and Chad Washington couldn't be happier about how their business has grown.

Of the three, Chad is the real gearhead, and he has been responsible for most of the daring construction and design choices that have helped SkatesTown get where it is today. He's the president and head of the team. Frank, gregarious and a smooth talker ever since childhood, now handles marketing and sales. Dean has tightly tracked the computer revolution over the years, and is chief technical officer for the company.

A few years back, Dean realized that networking technology was going to be big, and he wanted to make sure that SkatesTown could catch the wave and utilize distributed computing to leverage its business. This focus turned out to be a great move.

Dean set up a Web presence so SkatesTown could help its customers stay up-to-date without requiring a large staff to answer phones and questions. He also built an online order-processing system to help streamline the actual flow of the business with network-enabled clients. In recent months, more and more stores who carry SkatesTown products have been using the system to great effect.

Our Story Begins…

At present, Dean is pretty happy with the way things are working with SkatesTown's electronic commerce systems. But there have been a few problems, and Dean is sure that things could be even better. He realizes that as the business grows, the manual tasks associated with order gathering and inventory resupply will limit the company's success. Always one to watch the horizon, Dean has heard the buzz about Web services, and wants to know more. At the urging of a friend, he got in touch with Al Rosen, a contractor for Silver Bullet Consulting. Silver Bullet specializes in Web services solutions, and after a couple of meetings with Al, Dean was convinced—he hired SBC to come in, evaluate SkatesTown's systems, and help the company grow into a Web service–enabled business.

As we move through the rest of the book, we'll keep an eye on how SkatesTown uses technologies like XML and, later, SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI to increase efficiency, productivity, and establish new and valuable relationships with its customers and business partners. Silver Bullet, as we'll see, usually lives up to its name.

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