Page Two

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-07-07 Print this article Print

Why do you think Web services have not taken off the way Microsoft executives predicted two and three years ago? There are certain areas where customers have implemented and are there, starting with Dollar Rent A Car and moving up to customers like the Port of Miami where they are using handheld Pocket PC devices to integrate with their back-end systems. So we have examples of customers implementing today. Regarding the vision painted three years ago, it was firstly just that, a vision. It was really trying to articulate the characteristics of this new model of computing, what it would deliver at the end of the day. A broad vision was painted that is certainly a vision that has kept us focused over the past few years of connecting information, people, systems and devices. Were very much committed to that vision. We also had to first lay down the protocols and standards. We all like instant results, but the reality is that it was a complex challenge to really shift the entire industry away from visualization of information through a browser into a much more flexible experience with data and information.
Are we 100 percent there yet? Absolutely not. Its the kind of thing where we are going to keep innovating and delivering. The first phase targeted the developers, delivering the tools and technologies to enable them to start building these solutions, while the next phase over the past year has been providing businesses with an understanding of the value of back-end integration and why it is important to their business. The real next phase is when we start to see the face of these Web services, where consumers are really able to experience applications in which information is integrated and happens. As businesses start to invest and business applications start to integrate via Web services, thats when the end user and consumer start to benefit most strongly.
Do you see a lot more consumers and businesses using Web services over the next year? I do, and the irony is the consumer as an end user wont know that Web services are enabling many particular experiences. You wont experience the technology as much as the solution, but your experience will be a much more connected one. Take companies like Airborne Express, where customers no longer need to go to its Web site to track packages and see where they are. Users can now integrate directly into my task list in Outlook and see the current status of each of those packages. So I think we are starting to move to a situation where end users will start being able to consume these services more easily. Were certainly doing a lot of work around Office to enable that. Microsoft has been delivering the tools, and as we move forward with our own products you are starting to see that infused directly into the products themselves. We are a platform company and as these products and technologies become more widely available, you start to see the solutions ecosystem built on top of them. What do you think it will take to see more businesses adopting and using Web services internally as well as externally? More companies are implementing Web services than we realize. Many of our customers have found out that there are actually groups of their IT folks integrating via Web services today. Those are the best people to learn from as they are able to integrate and get results right away. What happens is that it takes on a grass-roots development within the company. When Microsoft first talked about its Web services vision, it talked about an application hosting component as well as the providing foundation services to paying subscribers over the Internet. The consumer .Net My Services initiative didnt fly, and Microsofts hosted subscription software initiatives have also faded away. Are these forever gone for Microsoft, or were they just introduced too early? We continue to be committed to the .Net My Services vision. We learned a lot from that model and got feedback from folks about how they would like to see those services managed and operated and in their own interest in managing and operating those services. The work that we have been doing recently is around providing that infrastructure that will enable different companies to implement and work on that. Some of our current services like Map Point are a great model for us of how to deliver services over the Web, and that is still something we see both ourselves and partners playing a significant role in. Thats a great ecosystem that we think still has the opportunity to develop. Part of the prerequisites there were infrastructure services needed to be running and protocols to enable that. Microsoft certainly continues to be interested in enabling and delivering that vision. How we do that, stay tuned, were committed to that vision.


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