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What's the best way for my organization to get started with Web services?

What's the best way for my organization to get started with Web services?
Most organizations are adopting Web services technologies in a staged manner: first seeking education on the technology and the promised business benefits; then experimenting with the technology to better understand those benefits and the impact adoption will have on their overall IT architecture; then using Web services technology on an ad hoc basis to facilitate completing specific application development or integration projects; then finally realizing their full potential by adopting Web services standards and technologies as the foundation of a fundamental shift in their overall strategy and architecture - the adoption of a service-oriented IT architecture.

Getting started should occur on two parallel paths:

On one branch - dive in. Pick a real project, or projects, with quantifiable business value that will benefit from the use of Web services to facilitate application to application integration. Pick a low-risk project that will not result in catastrophe if issues are encountered and delays are faced, but high in value if successfully completed. Then get it done. This is the best way to begin to build organizational experience with the technology and to identify the issues that must be addressed before widespread adoption of Web services can proceed. It's also the best way to get some early wins under your belt that can help support "selling" the adoption of the technology internally.

On the other - plan for widespread adoption. There is rapidly growing consensus in the marketplace that organizations that do not adopt web services technology in the pursuit of a service-oriented IT strategy will be left in at a competitive disadvantage versus their peers who do adopt. Early adoption of the technology could provide a window of competitive advantage. But widespread adoption of Web services technology without planning for the appropriate supporting infrastructure - security, management, service registries - can be disastrous. Most organizations recognize these risks and have formed architectural "tiger teams" to understand the issues, plan best practices, evaluate vendors and set standards.

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