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Overview

Prior to the release of ColdFusion MX, the discussion of HTTP eventually developed into discussions of intelligent agents—operations in which you're asking some outside process to perform a calculation and return some data. These operations can include calling a COM object, calling a stored procedure from a database, or using <cfhttp> to call another ColdFusion machine to do work for you. The simple determining factor is that the functionality resided outside of the application and that we needed to send information or make a request to some other machine to access it. The information returned is used for further processing or displayed without modification.

The brokering arrangements between servers were once custom written and specific to the needs of the application. However, both the Internet development environment we live in and ColdFusion MX have grown and made an industry standard of the technology required for communication among servers: It's called Web Services. Although an intelligent agent and a Web service can both accomplish the same functionality, the Web service is the preferred manner due to the supporting services and Web service–enabled applications currently available. The topic of Web Services will be covered in more detail in Chapter 24, “Creating and Consuming Web Services.”


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