Are we through arguing about the composition of the asphalt in the road and ready to start talking about transportation? Jorgen Thelin, program manager for distributed systems standards at Microsoft, recently posted this intriguing analysis of why we've crossed the threshold into what he calls the "Third Age of Web Services."
The First Age of Web Services: Basic Web Services: The focus was on creating the base communication and messaging layer - including SOAP, WSDL and UDDI specifications.
The Second Age of Web Services: A more advanced stage, in which the focus was creating the WS-* stack for Advanced Web Services - including WS-ReliableMessaging, WS-AtomicTransaction, WS-SecureConversation and WS-Policy specs among others.
Now, we enter the Third Age of Web Services, in which the focus is shifting to applying the Web services stack to specific applications and vertical domains.
Point taken: the business of Web services is no longer technology; the business of Web services is business.
Thelin points to an analogy provided by Burton Group's Jamie Lewis to illustrate how we're worrying less about the nitty-gritty details about standards and technologies, and more about how this fits into the business of business: "Arguments over the chemical composition of asphalt -- the protocols necessary to build the standard framework -- is of little value to customers who need a solution to a very real problem," according to Lewis. "What customers want is products and services that solve their identity problems -- the cars and trucks that actually help people get somewhere, but that work in an interoperable system -- cars that run on the public road."
While Lewis' analogy was orginally intended for identity management scenerios, Thelin correctly observes that this applies to Web services as a whole. We're ready for the next phase.