SAN DIEGO -- Web services are coming, and if businesses don't begin implementing policies and start planning, they may begin to lose efficiencies in their IT shops, according to an analyst who spoke at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo yesterday.
Businesses are requiring more data sharing among business partners and across legacy applications, many of which were never intended to interoperate with one another, said Dave Smith, a vice president with the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm. To accommodate this, businesses need to start planning for and implementing Web services that will enable broad-based standardized access to corporate information, he said.
If businesses continue to ignore the issue, employees are likely to spend time trying to integrate legacy applications on their own, creating inefficient quick fixes. Much like instant messaging and Wi-Fi, Web services are being introduced to large organizations by employees rather than IT decision makers, Smith said.
Gartner forecasts that, by 2007, 40% of the enterprise software sold will be enterprise enabled.
Ken Elder, an attendee with a financial services company who did not want to identify his title or his organization's name, said that his company was far from making the leap to Web services. Right now, it is beginning to experiment with Microsoft's .NET platform.
But the organization is also interested in allowing its business partners to access important server-based information, and so it is exploring a Web services model. Initially, the organization will make this information available over an intranet, and then eventually on the Internet, Elder said.
One of the key drivers behind Web services is the desire to standardize legacy applications and corporate information so that it becomes more broadly available and useful.
"Web services are all about standardization," Smith said.
Today, the industry is starting to adopt and utilize many of the standards, Smith said. Some, such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL) are widely used. Others, such as WS-Security and Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP), are still emerging.
Though many businesses are just starting to get their feet wet with Web services, Smith said that there are many potential benefits that more advanced deployments can bring. In addition to helping legacy applications communicate, Web services can also help businesses re-use code, since much of the integration will take place on standardized platforms, thereby saving significant amounts of coding that businesses would otherwise need to do.
However, not everyone is sold. Gene Moran, an attendee and a product marketing manager with Irvine, Calif.-based Quest Software Inc., said that Web services can be useful. Moran is interested in ways of making database information available to a broader range of applications. However, to his knowledge, Web services is not a significant priority for his organization.