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The Might of XML

Though Web services have been much ballyhooed for their ability to reduce the amount of manual coding for programmers, glaring inefficiencies in the way XML (define) is digested threatens to paralyze distributed computing.

Modern-day Web services are largely based on XML, which analysts say is fine for simple functions, but tends to get bloated when used in massive quantities.

Current XML parsers are not very effective. The APIs (define) have just as much trouble reading large file types in an efficient manner as they do reading multiple small file types.

This stresses out current processors, which power the application server to deliver content. Research firm ZapThink says this poses a problem because it believes corporations will continue to ramp up the amount of XML they employ in their networks, expanding from 15 percent today to almost 50 percent by 2008.

Because it is believed that Web services traffic will dominate XML traffic by the end of 2005, the possibility of a network bogging down at crucial points during, for example, a purchase order execution, increase 10-fold. This is a horrifying proposition for the business that relies on the Internet to fuel its money-making transactions.

With the glamour of Web services steeped in the possibility of processing thousands or even millions of transactions on a network, the threat that insufficient XML consumption could tie up computer systems is very real. ZapThink analyst Ronald Schmelzer says customers and vendors have expressed concern about XML’s ability to underpin Web services.

He admits the problems with XML processing have put a damper on the research company’s prognostication for the multi-billion-dollar growth for service-oriented architectures (SOAs) and distributed computing.

Despite the potential issues, ZapThink still believes the market for SOA (define) systems will balloon from $4.4 billion in 2005 to $43 billion by 2010.

Schmelzer also notes that several vendors are rising to meet the performance challenge. One might think that Microsoft (Quote, Chart), IBM (Quote, Chart), BEA Systems (Quote, Chart), and others would lead the innovation of the so-called XML optimization market. Not so.

Page 2: Optimizing XML

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