Some real Web services stories
Clearly, many in the high-tech world are betting heavily on a bright future
for Web services. Web services were at the center of strategies outlined by
IBM at last month’s DeveloperWorks conference and by Microsoft during its
earlier TechEd gathering. Numerous Web services-related trade shows have sprouted
up in the past year. (Truth in reporting: I’m technical chairman of the
XML/Web Services One conference to be held this month in San Jose and in August
in Boston.) Several industry analysts are touting the technology as the next
big thing. Many IT development managers are looking closely at the potential
for slashing integration costs while taking advantage of the various Web services
The primary Web services standards -- SOAP, UDDI, XML and WSDL -- are so far
retaining widespread support among friends and even bitter rivals like IBM and
Microsoft. IBM executives concede that any hitch in the standards effort could
seriously harm the firm’s overall strategy.
Web services backers promise that the technology can integrate a variety of
applications and systems software far more easily and inexpensively than more
established technologies -- so long as the standards maintain widespread industry
support, unlike numerous standards efforts in the past that splintered following
In this issue we take a look at how corporate
development groups are using Web services technology today, and how the early
usage compares to the hyperbole coming from many quarters. In this month’s cover
story, Web services: Report
from the field
, veteran technology journalist Johanna Ambrosio talks to users
who are somewhat enthusiastic about the potential of Web services, but aren’t
leaping headfirst into serious projects yet.
So far, Ambrosio found, organizations using the technology are starting with
simple projects to find out exactly what it can do while maintaining control
of still mostly unfamiliar standards and technologies. Development managers
at companies like First-Citizens Bank & Trust and American Electric Power
Company provide candid opinions on the current state of Web services, as well
as its long-range potential. For the most part, managers say the potential is
huge, but that organizations must first move on with the process of finding
out how it can best be used to accomplish specific goals.
This issue also features a look at the state of
open-source application servers, a past next big thing. In her feature ('Open-source servers
')in this month’s special Programmers
Report on Web services and XML, freelance writer Colleen Frye found that open
source continues to slowly penetrate larger IT organizations, despite questions
about scalability, management, J2EE compatibility, maintenance and support.
Frye looks at the capabilities of the most popular open-source application
servers -- Tomcat, Zope, Enhydra and JBoss -- which maintain formidable development
communities and support from commercial software developers.
Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.