Opinion: Major retailers wary of leap to Web services

Major Retailers Wary of Leap to Web Services . . .until those services prove themselves over a long period of time. "If the early bird gets the worm, the second mouse gets the cheese," drawled Jimmy Hale, vice president of Web technology at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. He said this is one area where he won't be an early adopter. Dave Towers, vice president of e-commerce operations for New York-based J. Crew, nodded in agreement, adding, "We've looked at Web services. There's nothing out there for us." Following the exchange very closely was Fumi Matsumoto, vice president of technology at Art Technology Group (ATG). He was co-hosting with Nike, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and other retailers to talk about technology futures for online CRM at Nike's headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. Needless to say, ATG didn't chat up any major Web services development it had under way, but it did unveil plans for additions to its ATG7 product. Those additions will include tools for wireless devices, kiosks, call centers and point-of-sale devices, as well as a campaign management component. The upgrade will probably hit the streets in the second half of next year. Meanwhile, the SAP and Siebel integration modules for ATG6 will ship this quarter.

Web services skeptics might want to chat with George Nemer at Dallas-based technology marketer Brierley & Partners. He has been using C# and .Net tools to build shared services for MySony.com and other sites. What's more, he has consistently been able to handle 1,200 concurrent users on each of his Compaq ProLiant 360 DL servers. The modest folks in Redmond, Wash., claim a mere 500 is possible.

The software industry's rumor mill is churning after Cambridge, Mass.-based start-up Systinet Corp. lassoed Mercator Inc. in an OEM deal for its Web services platform. Word is Interwoven Inc. will be next in a series of similar deals for Systinet. Sources say the biggest proponents of Web services standards, IBM and Microsoft, aren't in the OEM game because independent software vendors fear they may stray from those very standards.

Earth to marketing. After celebrating its 5th birthday, Path Communications Inc. in balmy Marina Del Rey, Calif., plans to announce its existence in two weeks. It will also unveil Path Application Manager Verion 3.0, which finds and fixes software problems for distributed applications. The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates software errors cost the economy US$60 billion a year. So it's about time the marketers at Path discovered their phones, e-mail and other tools of the trade to clue in potential users. And in light of Brierley's success in building snazzy and speedy Web services, Path better hustle on its 3.1 release, due in the first quarter of next year, which will include .Net support.

App Testing for Dummies. RadView Software Inc. next week will show off its application-function testing tool, Web FT 2.0, with a new user interface that can be used by even newbies in the software quality assurance department, which is often a starting point in a developer's career. The new drag-and-drop features and wizards will help the befuddled code tester find and fix problems. And for application-performance testing, RadView's WebLoad 6.0 will hit the streets in mid-November with automated testing for client-side JavaScript, Crystal Reports, more .Net statistics and out-of-the-box metrics for Apache, iPlanet, WebLogic, WebSphere and other server platforms.

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