IDG Contributor Network: REST or SOAP in a cloud-native environment


Cloud-based API data models have not only enhanced the cloud experience, but also provided a way for developers and administrators to integrate workloads into the cloud using those APIs. For most enterprises, APIs let share information across various on-premises and cloud-based applications. They also play an important role to integrate platform workloads more seamlessly. As cloud adoption continues to grow, there is more demand for integration points between applications inside and outside of the cloud environment. Rise of multicloud strategy along with need for enhancement in cross cloud capabilities have increased the dependency on cloud API environment. But which approach is better and what support do you get in your cloud environment?

SOAP in a nutshell

SOAP (short for Simple Object Access Protocol), the older approach, had industrywide support ranging from product companies such as IBM and Microsoft to service implementers. It also came with a comprehensive yet complex set of standards. Microsoft team who designed SOAP made it to be extremely flexible—to be able to communicate over private networks, across the internet and emails. It was supported by several standards as well. Initial version of SOAP was part of a specification that contained Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL) as well.

SOAP essentially provides the envelope for sending the web services messages. The architecture itself is designed to help the performance of various operations between software programs. Communication between programs usually happens via XML based requests and HTTP based responses. HTTP is mostly used protocol of communication, but other protocols may be used as well.

A SOAP message contains some mandatory parts such as ENVELOPE, HEADER, BODY, and FAULT. The ENVELOPE object defines the start and end of XML message request, HEADER contains any header elements to be processed by the server, and the BODY contains the remaining XML object that constitutes the request. FAULT object is used any error handling.