Hot technologies: Web services, WiMax, open source

Industry players work hard to address standards and implementation issues surrounding Web services, and the open-source movement poised to make greater strides.
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

Analysts say these technologies, after making headlines for much of 2005, are here to stay.

Web services
With the general push toward Web services by some governments in the region, the technology that seeks to overcome the different dialects between disparate systems should bear fruit next year.

In Singapore, Web services adoption by businesses now stands at 14 percent, up from 8 percent in 2003. According to IDC, US$2.3 billion was spent worldwide on acquiring Web services software last year, more than twice the amount in 2003. The analyst firm also expects spending in Web services to increase over the next five years, reaching US$14.9 billion by 2009.

During a Gartner symposium in the United States in May 2005, industry experts had called for vendors to take a step back from the hype that surrounds Web services. The politics that emerged while establishing competing standards, is hurting the technology, they said. One camp is led by Microsoft and IBM, while the other by Sun and Oracle. Both sides are seeking to make their own standards supersede the other.

However, by 2006, the exploratory stage of Web services should be over, as more businesses work toward actual deployment. Benefits such as the consolidation of multiple Web services standards will help pave the way for the technology to move full steam ahead.

Open source
This buzzword in the IT industry is keeping proprietary vendors wide awake at night. How does one compete with a free product made by legions of geeks around the globe? Why is there a groundswell for open-source software? Where have the proprietary vendors gone wrong? These are just some of the many questions that tech companies need to ponder over, as they move into the next frontier propelled by a penguin and search engine.


What's hot
The open source movement will continue to steam ahead, forcing vendors to rethink their business models.

Bottom line:
Those who ignore the opportunities of open source will face a competitive handicap.

Indeed, open-source software has been in the spotlight during the last year. IDC has cautioned tech companies to do a gut check of sorts, and think about disruptive business models of delivering IT as a service and the open innovation brought about by the open-source movement.

While software giants like SAP, which said open source "socialism" is the worst thing that can happen to any society based on intellectual property, and Microsoft which equates open source to communism, others like Sun and IBM have no qualms in stating its unwavering support for open source.

But whatever their stand is, open source is here to stay. Gartner noted in its latest prediction on tech trends next year, that vendors and businesses that ignore the potential threats and opportunities of open source will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. It will also pressurize traditional vendors to innovate more aggressively to counter the growing competitive threat from open source.

Another much-touted technology, WiMax, which provides wireless broadband access over much wider geographical scope than Wi-Fi, has been in the spotlight as countries all over the world start allocating spectrums to service providers. Some questioned the need for another competing technology, as consumers are just starting to get cozy with 3G mobile services.

To get a heads-up over competitors, some vendors have started introducing proprietary wireless broadband equipment, which they claim, are compatible with WiMax standards. The biggest stumbling block to WiMax in reaching out to the masses is the high cost of modems. But industry players say prices will fall, after more vendors join in the fray to produce standards-compliant modems.

The standardization process for fixed-WiMax equipment has begun, and by 2006, the industry should see the first WiMax-certified gear. The Holy Grail for WiMax, however, lies not in last-mile replacement offered by fixed WiMax, but its mobile sibling based on the 802.16e standard.

Mobile WiMax allows users to get high-speed broadband access wirelessly anywhere within a metropolitan area network. With such a connection, service providers can deliver Net telephony and data services to portable devices such as cellphones. In fact, Motorola is ignoring fixed WiMax altogether, choosing to focus instead on mobile WiMax. But such devices aren't likely to surface till 2007. Meanwhile, hang on.

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