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Gartner draws a bead on moving Web services target

Web services remain a "moving target" in the view of Gartner Inc. analysts, but it doesn't stop them from predicting where the technology is going.

If you liked the dot-com boom, hold onto your hat. One of the places Web services is going is into new e-commerce applications, which will be "widespread by 2009," predicted David Smith, a Gartner vice president and research fellow.

At Gartner's recent Application Integration & Web Services Summit in Los Angeles, Smith pointed to Kodak, which is already deploying the most underutilized Web services standard -- UDDI -- to provide digital photo services for consumers. He said to look for a lot more consumer Web services in the next five years.

However, if UDDI is an underutilized standard, the one problem that still slows Web services development is the lack of mature standards as they wend their way through the various committees at OASIS and the W3C. "We don't see standards coming as fast as we'd like," Smith said. "But we're optimistic that standards will settle."

As the XML-based standards mature, he said, Web services will transform the software market. Smith predicted that "software will be sold as services" and "the market will expand again."

Among software vendors moving aggressively into the brave new Web services world, Smith said Gartner currently views Microsoft and IBM as the leaders, and believes SAP and Oracle may join them.

For IT managers and executives trying to get a bead on this moving target, Smith offered three recommendations. First, rather than hold up Web services projects waiting for finalized security standards, he counsels using the existing security technology while staying open to emerging standards. Second, he said to look for reuse possibilities for Web services applications because that is where the productivity and return on investment gains will be realized. Third, he urged managers and executives to support skunk works Web services efforts rather than ignore them, as that may be where the innovations are developed.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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