A web service is a collection of open protocols and standards used for exchanging data between applications or systems. Software applications written in various programming languages and running on various platforms can use web services to exchange data over computer networks like the Internet in a manner similar to inter-process communication on a single computer. This interoperability (e.g., between Java and Python, or Windows and Linux applications) is due to the use of open standards (XML, SOAP, HTTP).
Web services allow different organizations or applications from multiple sources to communicate without the need to share sensitive data or IT infrastructure. All information is instead shared through a programmatic interface across a network. This interface can then be added to a GUI, like a web page, to deliver specific functionality to users. Due to this, web services are not specific to one programming language or operating system and do not require the use of browsers or HTML.
Unlike traditional client/server models, such as a Web server/Web page system, Web services do not provide the user with a GUI. Web services instead share business logic, data and processes through a programmatic interface across a network. The applications interface, not the users. Developers can then add the Web service to a GUI (such as a Web page or an executable program) to offer specific functionality to users.