At Developer Stage
Certainly, caution is warranted when it comes to deploying Web services in critical infrastructure; the technology is still in the developer-preview stage, and interoperability problems remain among different SOAP implementations. For example, handling of the HTTP SOAPAction header is required by Microsofts .Net but not provided by default with Apache Software Foundation Inc.s Apache SOAP.
Lack of developer tool support remains the biggest stumbling block to Web services deployment. Although the standards (such as XML and SOAP) and base libraries (such as Apache SOAP) for Web services are now fairly stable, mainstream development tools are still largely ignorant of the new platform. (eWeek Labs reviews of the beta versions of two major development tool releases, Microsofts Visual Studio .Net and Suns Forte for Java 3.0 Enterprise, begin on Page 60.)
One tool thats had a relatively significant lead in the Web services space is Borland Software Corp.s Delphi 6, which shipped in June with native support for creating SOAP servers and SOAP clients. Another company at the Web services edge is IBM, which shipped its WebSphere 4.0 Application Server with integrated SOAP tools last month.
However, even if the tools an organization uses dont have native Web services support, as long as the language in question has Internet protocol and XML support, Web services arent really that complicated to develop.
The point is, the time to be exploring these technologies for competitive advantage is now, and eWeek Labs recommends next year as the time to start deploying Web services in production, first for internal and then to selected outside partners.