Web services hype overly optimistic?

In a recent report, market research firm IDC concluded that Web services’ next phase, delivering software as a service, is at least a decade away.

Web Services are and will be successful; the big problem is that everyone is expecting a Web services reality that is not feasible with today’s technology, said IDC Application Design and Construction Tools Research Director Rikki Kirzner.

While the concept can contribute tangible benefits to solving enterprise integration, Kirzner reported the current Web service vision is “pure speculation, with no real consideration of what is achievable and what it will cost to actually build out the vision for full use on the open Internet.

“The caution here is to the developers,” Kirzner said, adding there are several “technology and business issues that have to be solved long before we’re ever going to be able to do software as a service across the Web.”

Web services, Kirzner said, are proving their value, particularly when used to integrate heterogeneous systems in highly decentralized organizations. But the reality is that current Web services will have to be built primarily from software components and elements that must be identified, located, accessed and dynamically assembled into customizable, turnkey applications, the IDC report found.

Extending the enterprise into the public Internet poses several challenges. Semantics, standards, security and privacy issues all present real barriers to Web services implementation, Kirzner said. “Think about the amount of legal effort and contract work involved,” she noted, when it comes to the sharing of intellectual properties, applets and data components required by the current Web services vision.

Kirzner added that realistic expectations of Web services are needed before widespread adoption and profits are achieved.