Microsoft Exec Touts Web Services

Speaking at Internet World, Microsoft's Charles Fitzgerald said Web services is key to meeting integration challenge.

NEW YORK—Web services represents the key to meeting the challenge of business agility, a Microsoft Corp. executive said in his keynote address Tuesday morning at the Fall Internet World 2002 show here.

Charles Fitzgerald, Microsofts general manager of platform strategy, said that in todays environment, businesses must be agile and that "success in the business world is really about reacting to change."

In what one attendee afterward called "a great big Microsoft commercial," Fitzgerald outlined five strategies for achieving business agility, but added that the strategies all link back to one primary challenge: integration.

"You have to embrace change and try to react to it," Fitzgerald said. "We have to rethink IT priorities, particularly in the current environment of belt tightening, and be able to evolve as requirements change over time."

His strategies include connecting with customers, plugging into partners "to create a remote value chain to bring the entire ecosystem together," empowering employees, streamlining business processes—not just data, but overall business processes, and having the technology express it—and optimizing IT economics.

The key to meeting these strategy requirements and the overall integration challenge is Web services, he said.

"XML Web services makes integration faster, cheaper, better than its been historically," Fitzgerald said.

The last 12 to 18 months have validated the technology, with Web services garnering broad industry support and providing a foundation for industry innovation.

Although many companies are beginning to adopt Web services, Fitzgerald said there are typically two types of organizations: those that integrate Web services to drive new business and those that use Web services to streamline their business processes and "take cost out of their systems."

Fitzgerald said the Web services roadmap consists of a series of "baseline standards," including XML, Simple Object Access Protocol, Web Services Description Language and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration, and moving toward newer standards to help make it easier for developers to build Web services.

Web services generally follows one of two lines, Sun Microsystems Inc.s Java 2 Enterprise Edition platform or Microsofts .Net initiative. Fitzgerald called Microsofts Visual Studio .Net a primary tool for developing Web services and touted the recently released Microsoft Web Services Developer Kit.

Meanwhile, he said the new Business Process Execution Language for Web Services, which provides a way to describe business processes independent of the underlying system will be supported by Microsofts BizTalk Server, which already provides business process support, he said.