Keeping Web services on the straight and narrow
The Web services phenomenon keeps rolling along, despite the fact there are
few serious corporate implementations of technologies and systems based on the
key standards. Can the Web services promise meet long-term reality, or will it
eventually go the way of proprietary minicomputers, client/server systems and
computer-aided software engineering?
Stories on the promise of Web services standards to easily bring together
dissimilar new and legacy systems among other solutions have spread through the
trade and general press. We at ADT have been
writing about the technology for many months. But after spending a lot of years
in this business, some questions linger: Can essential Web services standards
get and maintain the support of the key suppliers to IT? Which supplier will be
the first to add proprietary specs to the standard to gain a ''competitive edge''?
History shows that despite proclamations of support, there should be at least
some skepticism about long-term success. Remember the fate of the OSF, Unix
International and other bureaucracies that tried to create a single Unix
standard and develop specifications for linking dissimilar systems (remember the
In this issue, middleware consultant Peter Fischer (see
''Answering the critical Web
services questions'' ) lends his support to the
Web services experience, urging IT organizations to jump on the Web services
bandwagon and adopt still-maturing standards like UDDI along with more stable
standards like XML, SOAP and WSDL. Fischer maintains that Web services can
provide non-intrusive, standards-based application integration.
Despite the hope, this space continues to cast a wary eye on any integration
technology that requires extensive agreement among competing suppliers. In
recent interviews with ADT, Sun executives professed fear that
Microsoft and IBM are trying to squeeze them out of Web services standards
leadership and are downplaying Java. At the same time, at the June XML Web
Services One conference, IBM emerging technologies head Rod Smith made the point
to ADT that Web services and XML
are ''a greater value proposition than just Java.'' Could this be a foundation for
Web services dissent?
My guess is that some kind of split among key players will occur at some
time. At that point, it will be up to you in IT to force the sides back together
on Web services. Remember, these guys need you more than you need them.
This issue also
marks the return of middleware guru Max Dolgicer to the columns of ADT. In ''Servlets and EJBs: Friends or
Max and colleagues Gerhard Bayer and Michael Bardash explore which of
these technologies is best for specific e-business
Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.