Standards fights slow Web services
Wrangling among vendors seeking competitive advantage is
slowing the adoption of protocols to support commercially viable Web services,
contends Ray Valdes, research director at Gartner Inc. (http://www.gartner.com), a Stamford,
Conn.-based consulting firm.
''Many observers have seen limitations in the Web services protocols,'' he said
during a session on portals and Web services at the recent Gartner ITxpo in San
Diego. ''They see that there are capabilities needed for security, for
transactions, for workflow and for orchestration.''
Developers working on enterprise portal projects incorporating Web services
should research the current status of evolving standards for issues such as
security, Valdes said. He then recommended that they design for where the
technology is expected to be when the project is completed.
Valdes cautioned that this approach will not eliminate the need for some
reworking as the standards evolve, but it should minimize it.
While standards covering issues such as security and transactions are still
in flux, Valdes noted that the specific Web services standards -- SOAP, WSDL and
UDDI -- are stable and vendor tools are mature.
However, the scope of Web services development for outward facing portals is
limited not only by the slow evolution in terms of issues like security, but
also by the lack of available business data and applications, he noted.
''There aren't that many commercially viable, externally directed Web services
deployments,'' Valdes said. ''What we see are very trivial examples, a stock quote
or something like that. You make a request and you get a response. It validates
the technology but not the commercial viability.''
He said Gartner's analysis of this issue is that Web services will be limited
to what he terms ''call-and-response mechanisms'' in portal applications because
there isn't enough meat behind the interface.
''If you want something that has significant value,'' he said, ''you've got to
have something on the other side of that interface. That would mean a lot of
code or a lot of data or a combination.''
Valdes said commercially viable exceptions are applications in which there is
accessible data and an accessible application such as the ones overnight
delivery services offer to customers for package tracking.
As security and other needed standards mature, he predicted, enterprise
portals with Web services will provide users with more commercially viable
applications for e-business and e-commerce.
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.