"Suck it and see..."
BT tied its colours firmly to the web services mast this morning, outlining the products it will offer early next year and promising to treble managed application revenues inside three years.
Introducing a three-pronged assault on the market - an application component library, deployment environment and management layer - BT Ignite CEO Andy Green said as a communications infrastructure company BT was best placed to offer web services.
"Getting the security and integration right is fundamentally a network job," he said.
BT has teamed up with US-based Flamenco Networks to provide the management layer. The deployment layer - based around either Microsoft .Net or Sun's J2EE - will allow users to develop web services in a test environment. The offering will cost a one-off £10,000 charge for consulting and £20,000 a month for hosting.
All three elements will be available in January.
BT Ignite currently generates £150m from managed application deals with just under £100m in UK revenues. It says UK sales will hit £300m by 2005.
Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom said BT was in a good position to pick up web services contracts from its existing users but might struggle beyond that core.
"They have a big customer base where there is a lot of legacy applications. And they are a trusted partner," Longbottom said.
"But to hit anything like the [revenue] numbers they are talking about BT are going to have come up against IBM Global Services and EDS. And fighting an incumbent is always tricky especially one with the breadth of IBM which now owns PwC."
According to Longbottom it will be another 12 to 18 months before web services for internal applications begin to be implemented in significant numbers and up to four years before "we see completely open web services".
Although he questioned whether people would be willing to pay £20,000 a month for BT's deployment environment, Longbottom welcomed the company's strategy. "With web services it's important you suck it and see," he said.