Future of Web services takes centre stage

InforWorld (US)

The innovation rate, complexity, and current economic model associated with Web services came under attack this week.

Such topics came into the spotlight during the same week that Actional Corp., AmberPoint Inc., and Empirix Inc. all released products to address management, another increasingly important issue facing Web services.

At the Web Services Edge 2003 West conference in Santa Clara, Calif., Amazon.com CTO Allan Vermeulen urged audience members to find an economic model to expand Web services deployment and drive innovation.

As examples of current achievements, he cited extensions to Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. that enable users to interface with these sites via Web services. Amazon’s Associates program, for instance, allows developers to provide unique interfaces to Amazon ebusiness services in which those developers get a small percentage of any subsequent sales.

“Web services are just at the point where we’re waiting for some of these key innovations and we haven’t seen them yet,” Vermeulen said. “All the pieces are in place.”

Moreover, an official at Best Buy cautioned that the technology could serve to complicate integration issues. The company uses Web services as part of a multitiered integration strategy. Best Buy is adding 552 interfaces each month in an environment that features Web services, ETL (extract, transfer, load), FTP, integration hubs, and message hubs, said John Schmidt, the company’s IS leader.

“The final observation is that, as complex as our environment is, Web services is going to make it that much more complex,” Schmidt said. “It’s so easy to generate a Web service.”

An attendee at the show, Chris Andrasick, principal at systems integrator Tacit Knowledge, said users are immediately opting to find out how to solve integration issues without first creating a good system design.

“Everything’s the nail and Web services is the hammer,” Andrasick said. “I’ve seen instances where (Web services) has taken precedence over a good design,” resulting in brittle applications.