Web services critical to apps integration: Gartner

Web services, while still in its infancy, will be a crucial ingredient to the future of both the customer relationship management and application integration markets, according to Gartner analysts.

Although there are only a few actual instances of companies using the technology at present, Greta James, research director at Gartner, said there is real value in Web services. In fact, Gartner estimates a $US21 billion market by 2005 for new licences for software that uses Web services standards.

The belief that Web services will eliminate the need for application integration is one of the most common misconceptions held by enterprises, James said.

"I wish I had a dollar for every time I was asked if application integration would still be needed with Web services. The answer is 'yep, it certainly will'," she said. "Once you start to do it, you realise you need application integration capabilities. The need doesn't go away just because it's easier.

"There needs to be intelligence between the two, not to mention subtle semantics between applications that already exist," she said.

James said there has been an explosion of interest in Web services in the past 12 months. "There is a lot of hype and a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) surrounding Web services."

Security concerns, the complexity of messaging and workflow and a lack of understanding in the Australian marketplace are major inhibitors to Web services uptake, James told Computerworld.

She said that, for enterprises, it is a matter of coming to terms with Web services and understanding the transformative impact Web services can have on a business.

"Security is a major inhibitor as well as concerns surrounding messaging. For instance, for banks supplying trade finance information or for stock market trades between a fund manager and a broker, reliable messaging over the Internet is critical. You want to make sure the message got to the broker, but you don't want it to get there twice," she said.

"From a business perspective, Web services can be used in an opportunistic way," she said, adding it has the potential to have impact and allow enterprises to focus on what they do and outsource other functions.

The uptake of Web services will fan the integration suite sector to further growth over the next five years, James said, as many Web services will be deployed on integration broker platforms.

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