Are Web services ready to leave the early adoption stage -- that period when enterprises investigate the business benefits of a technology and deploy small pilot projects?
Yankee Group says so. The analyst firm from Boston recently surveyed more than 400 enterprise IT decision makers on their plans for Web services and service-oriented architecture and learned that companies are ready to spend more on Web services to solve integration problems and reduce application complexity.
Report author Siew-Joo Tan, meanwhile, said contrary to popular belief enterprises are replacing existing applications and business processes with Web services.
Tan said 43% of those surveyed by Yankee said Web-services-enabled applications will replace existing apps or business processes, while 32% said they will augment existing apps with Web services. One quarter of those surveyed said they would develop new applications using Web services.
"The data suggests that Web services can no longer be considered an emerging technology. Almost half of companies have already deployed Web services," Tan said.
By this time next year, Yankee predicts 77% of enterprises will have deployed Web services in some form. Currently, 48% of those surveyed have Web services in production and 39% plan to join them in the next 12 months.
While most companies have completed the deployment of a Web services software infrastructure, only 14% said they had exposed Web services to partners, suppliers or customers. Most Web services projects revolve around integrating internal systems, rather than building Web service components, Tan said.
"Companies use Web services in internal application integration projects first because these projects are perceived as less risky," Tan said. "Implementing them will help IT staff be more familiar with Web services technologies before using them for external integration outside the firewall which, apart from security concerns, is harder to execute and maintain."
Spending, meanwhile, is expected to rise, Tan said. Seventy-one percent of enterprises will increase Web services spending next year, compared to 4% that said they expect spending to go down in this area.
"This means many companies that have had a chance to pilot a project and assess if Web services can live up to their promise, have decided to deploy Web services on a larger scale," Tan said.
Most of the movement in Web services adoption is happening in larger enterprises, where more development staff and cash resources are available. Most enterprise IT shops are heterogeneous, thus making them ideal targets for the use of Web services as an integration tool, Tan said.
Not all the numbers from the Yankee survey were rosy. Of the 6% of companies that indicated no interest in Web services, 72% of those reported it was not a managerial priority, while 44% said they did not understand Web services and 28% were not convinced of the benefits.
Those deploying Web services, meanwhile, said security remains a top concern holding them back from exposing services externally and hampering collaboration.
Tan recommends enterprises delve deeper into Web services or fall behind competitively and ensure that Web services capabilities are part of a company's evaluation criteria when looking at new software.
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