IDC: Web services moving on from hype

In an industry where a lot of technologies are hyped up without follow-through, Web services is one craze that seems to be more than just lip service, according to a report by IDC.

According to the Framingham, Mass.-based firm, North American Web services spending will break, for the first time, the billion-dollar mark in 2003 and increase to US$2.7 billion by 2004. In 2002, approximately 3,300 Web services-based projects were implemented but the firm did not provide financial data for 2002. It added that large companies will account for nearly 72 per cent of the market this year, while small- and medium-sized outfits will spend close to US$3 billion on Web services by 2007.

The report, entitled North America Web Services-Based Professional Services Spending to Break Billion-Dollar Mark in 2003, said that by the end of 2003, IDC predicts that five per cent of North American businesses will have achieved some level of Web services technology adoption. From an implementation perspective, the analyst house is projecting substantial growth in a short time frame because of the re-allocation of funds towards the technology.

“(The jump) is based on the further adoption of Web services technologies and that’s a shift in spending that went around other projects and are now being spent in Web services,” said Lars Goransson, vice-president of services research at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto. He admitted that 2002-03 could easily be called the stage of early adoption but that applications are being developed that are Web-services-enabled.

Goransson noted that one of the unspoken, underpinning themes of the report was the lack of standards and economic factors, which have become primary reasons why Web services adoption have yet to flourish.

“The standards issue is part of it, for sure. Until that is worked out entirely, you won’t see broad-based adoption and that’s built in as one of the major assumptions,” he said.

But what is helping in dispelling the hype surrounding Web services is that customers are more aware of the longer time frame needed for adoption and the fact that applications are being Web services-enabled already.

There are several organizations fervently working on the standards dilemma, that include the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standard (OASIS), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Liberty Alliance. All have had some hand in developing standards and solving the interoperability issue across platforms, applications and programming languages. The W3C has been responsible for such specifications as Extensible Markup Language (XML), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) to foster Web services.

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