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Web service management market moves

An incredible number of organizations have launched products that focus on managing Web services but few will survive.


Market Commentary

Over the past year there have been an incredible number of organizations launching products that focus on some aspect of managing Web services. Yet this amount of activity represents an amazing triumph of hope over reality because few of these players will survive.

It's an early market
The WSM market is still a very early market. Whilst everyone is very interested in the topic, relatively few organizations are spending large amounts on enterprise wide infrastructure. The early players therefore will spend all their time educating and investing with minimal return.

There are two key indicators that are generally useful in measuring this.

  1. Maturity of standards - and here we have very early activity commencing with a new OASIS TC focused initiative - Web Services Distributed Management Technical Committee (WSDM TC). The call for participation was made on 13th February 2003.
  2. Customer requirements - WSM covers a range of function that spans from simple service pipelines through to sophisticated monitoring, tracking and behavioral modification systems. Right now most enterprises are focused on relatively simple usage of Web services, because they are dipping their toes in this complex pool slowly and cautiously.

    Consequently whilst we believe they will be in the long term essential parts of the infrastructure, right now many of the WSM products are way ahead of customer needs.

You can't buck laws of gravity
As sure as night follows day, the WSM market will evolve in the normal manner - that is small players and new entrants do the ground breaking thinking, educate the market, by which time the major platform vendors will have developed their products which will be integrated into consolidated stack offerings. How many remember the huge number of application server vendors just three years ago. One or two of the really good independent players will survive or be bought out by the majors, the others will either find niches or fail.

HP makes early moves
IBM has so far been alone amongst the big vendors in demonstrating any real intent to provide WSM capability, but this week we see HP making its move into this area. They announced the creation of a dedicated WSM team to extend the HP OpenView software suite for simplified Web Services management. Not surprisingly they are focusing on creating a consistent management interface for J2EE and .NET components, with support for all the leading application servers. Significantly in view of our comments on standards above, HP plans over the next few months, to contribute a WSM framework to OASIS and work with it towards WSM standards.

WSM requirements get complex
The reason that simple Web services have been accepted quite easily is that at a basic level the concepts are straightforward extensions of existing technologies that are already widely used. As an aside many people will respond that simple models are more easily and cheaply implemented using existing technologies, and that's certainly happening a lot right now. However when the base model changes, and you move beyond existing comfort zones, there's quite a lot of time needed to see ideas and concepts morph and bed down.

For Web services there's potentially huge complexity just around the corner, and it's this area that WSM platforms are gearing up to address. In my report last month on Service Level Management I explore some of these issues. Once you start offering WS based SLA's you need to be able to track activity at the end to end level, plus at each level of decomposition, in order to enable essential diagnostics. Whilst you may record the right information at the service level (although there are no standards for this right now) you will also be dependent on existing platform management tools, that almost certainly will not capture the required information. Further if you implement a service that is used by more than one consumer process, then you have multiple usage scenarios, which may mean different process chains - then you need a hierarchy of SLA's with different contracting parties and different sets of obligations. I make no apologies if that sounds complex, because it is - and I have hardly touched the surface of the issues hidden under this topic.

So taking the SLA area as an example, it is unrealistic to expect that enterprises will move rapidly into complex inter company relationships, a) because the task is inherently complex, and b) comprehensive management will require change to existing infrastructures and platforms. And who is better placed to address this class of problem - a start-up vendor with standalone tools, or a platform vendor that already has much of the underlying management infrastructure?

Finally we note that some customers are now approaching the point at which WSM should become appealing. In our Web Services Survey of organizations that already have ongoing Web Service projects, we were surprised to see the high average number of projects that each had completed or were in progress, with some reporting the number of different projects in double figures. It seems that once the pilot project is successfully completed, rollout is rapid with a large number of them now planning to implement some level of WSM capability this year.

Summary
WSM is going to follow a similar evolutionary path to the application server. We are still in that early stage where the feature functions of the individual tools are important. Eventually these will be commoditized, brought into core stack portfolios, and the opportunity for smaller players will be to offer specialist functionality that extends and complements the market leaders. As the major vendors start moving into this space, many of the start-ups need to figure this out. Do you get a sense of deja vu?

Please send comments to david.sprott@cbdiforum.com


Copyright CBDi Forum Limited 2002. The CBDi Forum is an analysis firm and think tank, providing insight on component and web service technologies, processes and practices for the software industry and its customers. To register for the weekly newswire click here.

For More Information:

CBDI Report - The Business Service Server
Originally published last year, this report provides detailed explanations of WSM functionality and architecture, plus assessments of the various tools and products. This 24 page report has been updated and we are now making this freely available for download to all registered CBDI members.
http://www.cbdiforum.com/bus_services.php3

CBDI Report - January 2003
Reengineering Service Level Management
Report available to Silver and Gold members at:
http://www.cbdiforum.com/secure/interact/2003-01/roadmap.php3

CBDI Report - February 2003
Web Services Architectures for Security
Report available to Silver and Gold members at:
http://www.cbdiforum.com/secure/interact/2003-02/security.php3

CBDI Report – November 2002
Platform Vendors Move in on Web Services Management
Report on IBM and Microsoft available to Silver and Gold members at
http://www.cbdiforum.com/secure/interact/2002-11/vendor.php3

CBDI Newswire Tue 04 Mar:
HP Makes Strategic Investments in Web Services Management
http://www.cbdiforum.com/public/news/index.php3?id=1209

OASIS TC Call for Participation: WSDM TC (Distributed Mgmt)
http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200302/msg00456.html

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