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IDC: Despite potential, Web services still years away

IDC: Despite potential, Web services still years away

BOSTON -- Don't expect Web services to live up to their promises overnight. The concept of publicly available and searchable Web services-based applications, and even applications shared with carefully selected business partners, may be two to four years away, according to an analyst for market research firm International Data Corp.

However, IT organizations that move to Web services can find some of the promised benefits right now, said Rob Hailstone, IDC's director of European Software Infrastructure Research in an address to the company's Directions 2002 conference in Boston.

Simplified application integration and developer productivity are the most immediate benefits available today to organizations that adopt Web services, Hailstone said. He noted that users can also work within their existing IT infrastructure, that there is no need to "rip and replace" applications to move to a new vendor's offerings, and that rich applications and more effective relationships with business partners are now possible. In the 2004 timeframe, users should start to see even simpler partner connectivity.

Web services also open new doors for new partnerships with companies that haven't had the power to dictate electronic business rules and standards, he said. "One thing that has been clear in talking to senior IT executives is that in the long term, we have to involve the smaller organizations that we do business with, as well as the large ones.''

In the 2006-to-2008 timeframe, users are more likely to see benefits such as the ability to transform business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships, subscription-based services, commoditization of software and use of Web services outside of traditional IT boundaries.

Hailstone said application integration is the top priority for Web services users, with about 25% of respondents to an IDC survey listing integration ahead of new functions and replacement of legacy systems.

However, the research also showed that integration with legacy systems was one of the leading challenges for Web services.

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