Web services step into the enterprise

Infoworld readers and analysts weigh in on Web services implementation

EIGHT MONTHS AGO, InfoWorld Media Group launched its first Next-Generation Web Services conference in San Francisco. This capped months of Web services coverage by both our Test Center analysts and our news and features team. This week marks our second Web services conference, focusing on applications. In the past months, we have carved out a niche for ourselves in the Web services market with our ground-breaking coverage and expert analysis. This week, we continue our distinguished reporting and research.

For a look at how your peers are planning to implement Web services, check out the results of the Test Center Web Services Applications Survey (see " Web services applications "). Readers answer such questions as "Will Web services integrate partners and solutions faster and cheaper?" and "How long has it taken to reap the benefits of Web services?" The survey reports reader responses to questions about transports, business process integration and legacy assets so that you can be privy to nascent trends that will help you make vital business decisions.

When asked about their top three goals for Web services, respondents cited business process integration (63 percent), application integration (58 percent), and Web-based application development (57 percent). In our cover story, Jon Udell aptly questions the lack of human involvement in the respondents' priorities because the key to Web services' continued evolution will be user interaction.

The browser is, for the time being, the dominant means of user interaction, and indeed 76 percent of survey respondents cited it as their Web services client platform for the next 12 months. However, Udell points out its shortcomings and posits that Microsoft Office is an up-and-coming contender. Like Office, other innovations are hampered by time to market and incomplete standards, making Web services a tenable but intangible solution.

Tom Yager discusses the future of Web services as middleware (see " Middleware evolution "). Here, too, Web services is hampered by technology problems, however Yager points to standards already in the works that may result in Web services replacing, rather than complementing, middleware solutions. Also check out the head-to-head debate between Yager and Test Center Analyst P.J. Connolly (see " Forever free services ") over proprietary standards solutions vs. open standards.

Test Center Analyst Mario Apicella focuses on packaged enterprise applications and vendors' endorsement of Web services (see " Beyond integration "). With PeopleSoft, SAP, Oracle, and Siebel beginning to incorporate Web services standards and technologies, CTOs may face tough choices for updating legacy applications.

If you can't make it in person to our Next-Generation Web Services conference this week, we encourage you to experience it virtually at http://www.infoworld.com/features/fenextgen.html . We list show news, recent Test Center articles and features, live forums, interviews, and other valuable content.

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