Kaye: Theyre not yet standardized. The technologies for virtually all of Web services are in existence, all the way up the stack. Its a matter of agreeing on which ones were going to use. Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, everyone will have a solution as quickly as possible, but theyre not necessarily going to be compatible. The problem now is that were entering a world where "co-opetition" is about to end, where vendors have a great deal of vested interest in proprietary technologies.Van Huizen: We think in terms of SOA [service-oriented architecture] first and Web services second. We think that Web services promise to increase interoperability between applications, and theyve begun to do that in a somewhat- limited way as has been discussed. They will do so in an increasingly rich way moving forward. But the model of a service-oriented architecture really offers, or can offer, a systematic architectural approach to incrementally connecting applications. And thats really the fundamental premise here. Liebow: Im not sure if I should be happy here about some of the comments [made earlier]. I think the word used was "trivial." Ill name one [example thats not]: Visa [International Service Association], with a simple Web services implementation on the dispute resolution end of their business. This was a customer that wanted to do a Web services implementation but couldnt touch their front end because they run tens of thousands of transactions a second. They looked at the back end in terms of the number of transactions that end up as a dispute, and their goal was to see how quickly they could resolve these disputes with a simple Web services implementation. Within 13 weeks, we had that implementation up and running and in deployment, and [Visa has] saved $238 million. And what did Web services bring to the party that made that kind of savings and quick response possible? Liebow: They could have done it with an alternative technology, but by making it a Web services implementationby achieving those savings in the first three monthsthey have proven to their membership, the banks and to their own management that Web services is doable, that its a real technology. Connie, I hardly need to ask what Sun [Microsystems Inc.s] position is on the role of standards in making the industry more competitive? Weiss: Our customers keep telling us that they are just overwhelmed with the number of specifications that are out there. Theyre confused about why some specifications are not in open-standards organizations. They want solutions, they want answers, they want to bring together their heterogeneous systems and reduce their cost of investment in these systems and get into the Web services mode. Customers ... are getting more and more hooked on this stuff, saying, "We can do so much with this little bit. Think how much more we can do if we can get the full stack into an open-standards arena, developed through the industry." What is making some of the noise thats causing customers concern? Weiss: Sometimes specifications are announced that are not put into open-standards organizationsthat are actually competing with work thats going on in open-standards organizations. They become more de facto, more owned by one or two companies, and that really isnt building an industry. Thats not building the infrastructure thats needed to make these standards successful. Farrell: I think I have to disagree with the comments on how the co-opetition is going to go away. ... What you get from time to time is a hiccup, where two companies actually disagree on how it actually is done, or someone gets frustrated with the process and tries to do things a different way. But I think that, in general, it does work. Blum: There are new standards that enable the kind of value proposition of simple Web services, for doing point-to-point application integration, to get the kind of economies of scale and simplicity for connecting multiple applications in more complex scenarios. And the kind of standards that you have in mind are ... ?
Gordon, it seems as if Sonic views its role as building a platform that offers a fairly high level of abstraction, with standards defining enabling technologies. Am I beginning from a right assumption there?