Web services growing pains expected to continue

Web services provides great potential, but its growing pains will continue, according to panelists at a session of the Web Services Edge 2002 conference in San Jose on Thursday.

“Think of Web services as a potential e-business backbone,” said Arun Gupta, chief technologist at Rational Software Corp. A purchasing application, for example, could automatically complete a purchase with a vendor in Korea, Gupta said.

Web services is being applied to business problems, but will be “misused over and over again,” said panelist Larry Alston, executive vice-president at eXcelon Corp.

Integration of systems is becoming an important use of Web services, said Carl Sjogreen, a BEA Systems Inc. official. Sjogreen noted there are “tons and tons of standards” applied to Web services, but there is a core set that includes standards such as SOAP and WSDL.

However, there is still some apathy about the concept, according to panelist Steve Wilkes, principal technologist for AltoWeb Inc. “I feel the problem with standards, especially Web services, is not enough people care. Web services is still a new technology,” to many people, said Wilkes.

“A lot of people don’t understand what the problem is,” he said. “The recognition that something needs to be done is just not there.”

Gupta, however, said that in the right timeframe, “[Web services] will have a profound effect on business.” Web services will change the way businesses interact with each other, Gupta said.

Web services, however, awaits a “killer app,” Gupta said.

“What we’re looking [for] is a killer app, somebody who is [delivering] an application that relies on Web services that is solving a business need today. I can’t guess what that technology is,” said Gupta.

Panelist Frank Bergandi, CEO of Actional Corp., said Web services is the first technology revolution that has had almost ubiquitous support of standards.

Wilkes said the future of software will be in moving away from developers building applications to building platforms that make it easy to connect services.

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