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Web Services Now and When

Continued from Page 2

Future Forward

These two examples notwithstanding, some research firms believe Web services will be operational on a wide scale basis in five years. But along the way, several things are happening as the market continues to evolve.

One obvious point on the enterprise side is that the market has too many small, niche vendors to bear. This is leading larger vendors looking to add new technology to scoop up the smaller fry and get a competitive edge.

Over the past year, Computer Associates has acquired Adjoin and Netegrity, HP has purchased Talking Blocks, Actional merged with Westbridge Technologies, and Digital Evolution has snapped up Flamenco Networks.

Another point is this: While it’s great that software vendors build technologies and usher standards into being, these things are worth little unless companies can find ways to tie these technologies to business processes. In the enterprise world, this is why vendors are turning to business process management (BPM) with their Web services strategies. BPM applies business processes to Web services, helping loosely-coupled applications conduct transactions.

For example, it is unlikely the widget scenario would be possible without it because too many things can go wrong in a distributed computing environment unless services are properly corralled.

To support BPM, standards body OASIS is hashing out the Business Process Execution Language , a language for specifying business process behavior based on Web services.

Together, Web services and BPM are key components of service-oriented architectures (SOA), a broader set of distributed computing characteristics in which software resources are rendered available as services on a network.

Companies such as IBM and BEA are posing SOAs as schemas in which software code is generally recycled or reused for other programming purposes. The idea is that programmers save time and the company money by not having to manually write new code.

This is just one compelling facet of SOAs, and research firm ZapThink confirms the concept of “service orientation” is gaining steam, providing business users with services they can call upon and compose into business processes.

While many research firms are conservative about projected growth for young architectures, ZapThink believes the market for service orientation will grow exponentially, with the total SOA Implementation Framework market going from $4.4 billion in 2005 to $43 billion by 2010.

Plenty of security issues need to be worked out, though. After all, if your intelligent agent is programmed to go out and find the best priced widgets, and eventually carry credit card information or other sensitive data needed to complete the transaction in a Web services protocol, shouldn’t it know – and be able to verify – who it’s eventually dealing with?

The question may help explain why many businesses and enterprises are first testing Web services applications internally, such as between different company divisions before exposing them to business or trading partners.

Training is another issue. Adapting legacy databases, no matter how fine-tuned with middleware they are, takes time, as does training developers and programmers to think of a more universal approach to modeling databases. These are just two in a laundry list of issues that have already slowed some projects. But testing begats more trouble-shooting, which eventually begets Web services that work more smoothly.

ZapThink’s projected numbers may help explain why businesses large and small are making sure they are aware of the shift to Web services and how those fundamental changes will impact their way of conducting business.

Analysis courtesy of Susan Kuchinskas and Sean Michael Kerner contributed to the analysis.

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