SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - Though Thursday's headlines undeniably belonged to Microsoft Corp. and the early buzz surrounding its highly anticipated Microsoft.Net project, software developer Bowstreet Software Inc. proved that an old hand at the Web services game still has a few cards up its sleeve.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Bowstreet announced Thursday that it has released an enhanced version of its vendor-neutral, mass-customization XML-based platform called Bowstreet Business Web Factory. The company will also launch on Monday its new Business Web Exchange, a trading hub for Web services, according to Bowstreet senior marketing manager Steve Chazin.
Microsoft's plunge into the emerging Web Services arena brings immediate credibility to what Gartner vice president of Internet strategies David Smith called "the next generation of the Internet."
"[Customers] could choose to use the concept of Web services to use functionality of other services on their Web site, or they can make their services available so they can participate the other way around," said Smith, based in Stamford, Connecticut. "[The Internet] is going to look like that two or three years from now."
Smith said Web services demand is on the rise because commodities such as modularization, or the ability to use services that other people have already constructed, will play a much bigger role as businesses change and are forced to react on massive scales on their site in Internet time.
Rather than perceive the Web-services entrance of software giant Microsoft as a threat, Bowstreet officials view it as a blessing, Chazin said.
"They're helping developers build razors for our blades," Chazin said. "That's all inventory that we can build upon. They're helping us validate by popularizing the ability for companies to populate their own extranets for Web-enabled services."
Chazin said in some ways Microsoft's .Net initiative is a means for the company to get back to its roots as a provider of tools for developers.
"They don't want to lose their developers to the growing Linux and Solaris communities that have proven their applicability to the Internet," Chazin said.
"They've thrown in the gauntlet that they have to make their developers more competent in building Web services.
"[Microsoft] saw today that shrink-wrap technology is dead," Chazin continued.
"They are playing in a bigger pond than the OS, where they had no competition.
Now in this world of everything being open-standards-based and Internet first, they have to change their strategy."
Business Web Factory 2.0 is compatible with Web services vendors Microsoft, Sun, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard. It supports Microsoft's XML data-reduced scheme definition (used for Microsoft's BizTalk framework), and the W3C's (World Wide Web Consortium's) XML schema definition language.
Business Web Exchange works in conjunction with Business Web Factory as a "library" of Web services to be provided and accessed by collaborating companies.
Chazin said companies conducting business by playing the roles of purchaser and seller through Business Web Exchange must agree on drawn up terms of agreement before a transaction or deal can be made. Bowstreet officials said the company does not take part in services transactions.
Business Web Factory 2.0 is available now, with average deployment starting at $250,000. A free downloadable version of the software, which lets customers get a feel for creating and publishing Web services, can be accessed to qualified business and software professionals via the Business Web Exchange.
Business Web Exchange, expected to be rolled out in waves over the coming months, will be available on Monday.
Brian Fonseca is an InfoWorld reporter.