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Web Services' latest scorecard

Participants at the recent ZDNet Australia Web Services Roundtable in Sydney rate the maturity and uptake of Web Services.

This debate has been ongoing since the concept of Web services was first bandied around four years ago. But if findings from a recent gathering of IT professionals are anything to go by, it's obvious that some companies are hacking through the hype and putting Web services to work.

Participants at the inaugural ZDNet Australia Web Services Roundtable  held in Sydney recently resoundingly agreed that the technology has been part of the IT scene for over a year but its low profile was mainly due to competitive reasons.

"To us, Web services is an evolution of the technology used to communicate with our clients and suppliers," Richard Ang, CIO for Web portal nineMSN, said. NineMSN is a joint venture between Microsoft and Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, one of Australia's leading media companies.

A Web service is a software application available over a network -- usually the Internet -- that uses a standardised Extensible Markup Language, or XML, messaging system and is not tied to any one operating system or programming language. At the heart of the Web services application environment war lies two camps vying for domination -- Sun Microsytems with J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and Microsoft's .NET.

Ang said implementing Web services on the .NET framework was a natural progression because the Internet is the backbone of nineMSN's business.

He recalled how content partners used to FTP (file transfer protocol) files to nineMSN, which would in turn spend time processing the information before uploading to the Web site.

"Nowadays, the content is in XML and all we need to do is to 'call' or initiate a Web service to complete the file transfer process," Ang said.

For Tom Radovanic, general manager at diversified finance and investment group Elderslie Finance, the decision to implement Web services was a no-brainer.

"We were committed to a Web services approach even before XML," Radovanic said. J2EE is the weapon of choice for Elderslie, which also offers customised software applications to other financial institutions -- including the ANZ Bank and the New York Stock Exchange -- as part of its offerings.

"Web services has enabled our business to grow very quickly," he added.

On how to determine return on investment for Web services projects, the Roundtable participants said such statistics were difficult to determine because of its "continuous evolutionary" nature. They agreed that Web services was a "natural move" for IT departments looking to make sense of disparate data.

"There no end date to implementing Web services. Honestly, I wouldn't know where to start if I was asked to do an ROI study on Web services," said Brian Pittorino, acting CIO, Macquarie Corporate Telecommunications.

If justifying funding for Web services remains a challenge, IT departments should better explain to management how the technology could be used as a competitive advantage, the participants said.

Tracking the players

Company Product pipeline What's new Bottom line What's ahead Learn more
BEA Systems




BEA is readying a program to encourage adoption of a modern system design called services-oriented architectures. It also has on tap a mobile development project.
March 19, 2004

Getting customers to adopt cutting-edge technologies is critical to BEA's product strategy.

WebLogic Platform suite version 9.0 is due by mid to late 2004.

BEA white papers on WebLogic.
Oracle




Oracle releases a preview version of Oracle Application Server that complies with the specifications of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4.
March 17, 2004

The J2EE 1.4 specification makes it simpler for Java programmers to build Web services applications.

Oracle expects to receive final word by May 11 on whether the European Commission will challenge its hostile bid for PeopleSoft.

Web services tutorials from Oracle.
IBM




IBM unveils a program to make it easier for developers to evaluate its software products. It's designed to give a push to IBM's consolidated development tools strategy.
Feb. 18, 2004

Developers can get evaluation versions of IBM's Rational, WebSphere, Domino Web document management and Tivoli security software.

WebSphere 6 is set for release in the second half of 2004.

IBM's Webcasts on e-business.
Microsoft




Microsoft backs away from many of the more grandiose uses once envisioned for Passport, its online identification system.
Feb. 23, 2004

While the software will still be inserted into Microsoft's Internet infrastructure, broader plans to manage identity information are being deferred to Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system.

Microsoft has delayed plans to ship updates to its Visual Studio.Net development tool, code-named Whidbey, and its SQL Server database, code-named Yukon, until next year.

Microsoft's .NET strategic white papers.
Sun Microsystems




Sun Microsystems releases a second technical preview of Java Studio Creator to the 86 companies that have requested an early look at the tools.
Feb. 18, 2004

Sun is seeking to persuade programmers to make Creator their tool of choice for building Web applications with Java.

Sun will fill out the developer edition of its Java server software with an enterprise version in the latter half of 2004.

Web Services Development: On IT's critical path.

Other players: Borland, Cape Clear, Computer Associates, Novell, SeeBeyond, WebMethods
Source: CNET News.com