Once again, our knowledgeable Web services experts are offering their predictions for the coming year. How accurate were last year's predictions? Check them out here. Then, see what they've predicted for the world of Web services in 2004 below.
Look into your own crystal ball and tell us what you see for the Web services world in 2004. Post your predictions in our Sound Off feature.
Kerry Champion, Middleware
Ben Watson, Standards
Daniel Foody, Web services deployments
Eric Marks, author, Executive's Guide to Web Services
Sean McGrath, XML
Mark Baker, REST
Doron Sherman, Web services orchestration
Roman Stanek, Future of Web services
Jeff Hanson, Java/J2EE
Throughout his career, Kerry Champion, Founder and President of Westbridge Technology, Inc., has delivered products and consulting to organizations such as the NSA, Citicorp, US Coast Guard, Merrill Lynch, US Navy, and Chase Manhattan Bank, that care deeply about IT security. Prior to founding Westbridge Technology, Kerry was Senior VP of Product Development at Tumbleweed Communications, a leading specialist in secure content management and the provider of the reference implementation of the S/MIME secure e-mail standard. Tumbleweed has provided security management frameworks to over 1500 customers, including: Verisign, USPS, UPS, LaPoste, Canada Post, Pitney Bowes, NTT, FDA, European Union and American Express. Ask Kerry a question about Web services middleware.
Kerry's 2004 predictions
- Web services move external
The typical pattern in big organizations is to have your first Web service be used only internally behind the firewall. Having succeeded with these projects, teams are expanding and opening up interfaces across the firewall to external partners and customers.
- Web services break out of point-to-point
A team's initial Web service implementation is often targeted at a specific "consumer" software component which is known in advance, at the time the Web service interface is defined. This allows all kinds of simplifying assumptions around security, standards interoperability, etc. and is a very reasonable first step.
However, this kind of point-to-point connection does not realize the full vision and full value of Web services and Service Oriented Architecture.
Ask yourself, "Can I add a new type of consumer, accessing my XML interface, without having to modify the Web service itself?" If the answer is "probably not" then you don't really have a loosely-coupled network; you have a point-to-point connection.
2004 is the year that organizations implement the needed infrastructure and practices to make XML messaging to Web services a true loosely-coupled network.
- Desktop software accesses Web services directly
Almost all XML messaging today goes between software components running on servers. By the end of 2004 we will see significant XML traffic flowing from desktop software (Excel, InfoPath, Above All, etc.) to server based Web services.
- Security-only infrastructure is supplanted by unified infrastructure
There is a whole range of capabilities (security, standards interoperability, monitoring, service virtualization, etc.) which are best implemented in shared intermediary software (gateways or agents) rather then buried in custom code in the Web service business logic.
Organizations are realizing that they don't want to flow their XML traffic through 4 or 5 different intermediaries to implement this range of capabilities. They would rather have a single piece of infrastructure that can touch the XML data stream once and then interact as needed with other building blocks (directories, system management dashboards, etc.) which are applied across all the data streams (XML, HTML, SMTP, etc.)
The stand-alone XML firewall and SOAP Security Gateway products will gain limited acceptance in 2004 as organizations turn to unified solutions that include all the XML firewall functionality but also include monitoring, standards interoperability, service virtualization, etc.
As Ray Wagner at Gartner put it "Pure-play [Web services] security platform vendors ... will disappear" because "enterprises that use Web services will demand security and management functionality in a single platform."
- Public pay-per-use Web services are still in the future
The world where software functionality is sold on a pay-per-use basis via a XML Web services interface will not happen in 2004. Web services technology is all about reducing the cost and time involved in setting up direct program-to-program communication. It is not yet about changing the business model for how software is sold.
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