As software behemoths such as Microsoft, IBM and Sun battle for supremacy in the Web services arena, a number of upstart vendors are also fighting for a piece of the action. A new report suggests that a few of those less recognized companies that supplement the offerings of larger vendors may be positioned for success.
"There's a lot of functionality tied to Web services delivery that isn't yet being provided by the major vendors in the market," said Dwight Davis, a vice president with Summit Strategies and author of the report.
Davis said those gaps are concentrated in three general areas: aggregation and routing, integration and process flow, and overall management. However, Davis said it is important not to overemphasize any one category.
"You could make a case that some companies could fit in multiple categories," he said. "In the near term, some of these companies need to articulate a clearer positioning statement."
The major vendors do a decent job of offering developer tools to create Web services or wrapper code to componentize existing applications, Davis said, but aggregation and routing companies like WebPutty Inc. and Sarvega Inc. provide the virtual glue to connect Web services once they are built and can help with advanced development.
Integration and process flow vendors like Avinon Inc. and HandySoft Corp. specialize in smoothing out the connection between business processes and Web services, often picking up where a company like Oracle would leave off.
Finally, Davis said management companies like Infravio Inc. and Blue Titan Software Inc. can step in to handle anything from overseeing the development of a single Web service to taking on responsibility for the performance of an entire architecture with multiple Web services.
Davis said these smaller companies are not in direct competition with larger vendors because many aren't in position to recommend an overall strategy and support it with a comprehensive development platform.
"But, surrounding this core development environment or deployment environment, there are all these adjunct areas -- management, quality assurance, security -- that you need to address if you are serious about building enterprise Web services solutions," said Davis, and it is in those areas that smaller companies are carving their niches.
Since the Web services market is rapidly evolving, Davis said there is always some risk that smaller companies will be forced out of the market or acquired by larger ones.
Davis said when a customer is looking to contract a smaller company, it should heed the recommendations of major market players and other vendors it already works with, in addition to performing its own research.