Web Services Pros and "Gotchas" Highlight Gartner Summit

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2003-11-17

Web Services Pros and "Gotchas" Highlight Gartner Summit

BALTIMORE—Enterprises looking at Web services should pilot some projects, if they havent already, said analysts at a Web services conference here Monday.

David Smith, vice president and research fellow at Gartner Inc. delivered a keynote presentation with several recommendations for Web services implementers at the Gartner Application Integration and Web Services Summit 2003 here.

Among Smiths other recommendations were to use Web services for interoperability, not just integration; prepare for the impact of Web services on the mainstream; use Web services today but be prepared for security issues; use Web services to bridge .Net and Java; have reasonable expectations; and keep it simple.

In addition, Smith listed several pitfalls when implementing Web services. One common "gotcha" is that Web services are too easy. Remember, "It doesnt do all the integration for you," he said.

Other such "gotchas" include: "the legacy interface still needs to be mapped; your data is dirtier than you think; big files move slowly; and an undocumented service is invisible," he said.

Meanwhile, Smith said many of the basic tenets of Web services make "whats old new again." He said Web services will enable the resurgence of technologies and concepts such as business-to-consumer applications, identity management—such as Microsofts delayed Hailstorm Web services play—interactive Web services, events, global class issues, services stations, virtual enterprises, and Web services business models.

Smith said that the overall status of Web services in the industry today is that "we are today about to start to get some real benefit out of it." He expected Web services to take off as the availability specialized components comes together with the ability to orchestrate Web services.

In addition, Smith gave some guidelines on when to use Web services. "If youre dealing with structured data, Web services can help," he said. So applications such as bar coding, RFID (radio frequency identification), effective search, voice recognition and ubiquitous wireless access are good opportunities for Web services, Smith said.

IBM and Microsoft Have

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According to Smith, there are two major companies leading in the Web services space—Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. Still, there is room for others to enter into the elite realm, Smith added.

"There is very clear leadership in this space, as two companies understood this early and continued to execute" where other companies have not yet gotten there, he said.

However, he said the emergence of service-oriented business application (SOBA) vendors, such as SAP AG and Siebel Systems Inc., will give the top players some competition.

"The next leader that will challenge IBM and Microsoft in this space sill be one of these SOBA companies in the next few years," Smith said.

According to Smith, one of the main benefits of object-oriented development and now service-oriented development is reuse. And Web services enable a whole new focus on reuse, he said.

Gartner sees Web services as involving four major platforms: Web services producer, management, consumer and provider platforms, Smith said.

The producer platform focuses on development and Gartner has coined the term service-oriented development of applications (SODA) as the process by which developers work in a service-oriented world.

SODA requires an integrated services environment, an application platform suite and other technology, Gartner officials said.

Meanwhile, Smith said that "SOBAs will enable by 2008, Type A enterprises to have complete reuse of application components."

Yet, to implement these Web services applications, developers must adhere to the basic Web services standards and follow the lead of some of the emerging standards in the Web services standards stack.

Gartner lists four levels of standards: entrenched, established, emerging and eventually.

  • Entrenched standards include XML and TCP/IP;
  • established ones include Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL);
  • emerging standards included WS-Security and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML); and
  • eventually standards include Liberty and Passport, and workflow standards such as Business Process Execution Language (BPEL).

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