Management May Be Next Battleground for Web Services

As companies push past the barriers that security concerns have placed
before Web services adoption, XML and Web services research firm ZapThink predicts Web services
management technology will be the next roadblock — and the next
opportunity — for companies competing in the Web services arena.


“Web services management solutions bridge the gap between Web services and
the underlying technology that they run on,” said Jason Bloomberg, senior
analyst at ZapThink and author of the report Service-Oriented
Management: How Web Services Management is the Key to the Service-Oriented
Architecture
.


“One of the key things that the Web services management solutions offer is
service-oriented management,” Bloomberg told internetnews.com
Tuesday.

Web services management applications provide software that helps companies
manage the systems and applications that underlie their Web services
implementations, including system management, lifecycle management,
business management, security management and service-oriented architecture
enablement. Bloomberg said the latter is the key to the technology, because
it will allow companies to take their fine-grained, “atomic” Web services
and other data sources and encapsulate and compose them as coarse-grained
business services.


“The software functionality is exposed as services, but they’re
loosely-coupled, which means you don’t have to control the service to
access the service,” Bloomberg said.

To understand the difference between fine-grained and coarse-grained
services, it helps to look at the example of ordering a product over the
phone as opposed to ordering through a mail-order catalog. Bloomberg said
ordering over a phone is analogous to a fine-grained process because there
are a lot of questions back and forth between the two people on the phone.
Mail-order is similar to a coarse-grained process because the order form
has all the back-and-forth queries built into it.

In other words, a coarse-grained service gets around the need for multiple
API calls necessitated by a point-to-point applications by encapsulating
all the necessary information in a single chunk of XML data.

ZapThink has a multi-phase model for the adoption of Web services
technologies. “We believe that Web services will be adopted in a series of
fits and starts as companies reach one of these barriers to adoption,”
Bloomberg said. When a barrier is reached, he explained, adoption will slow
and vendors will then create an opportunity by solving the problem with new
technologies.


The first major stumbling block, Bloomberg said, was security. “We’re in
the process of getting over that one,” he said. Management is the next
roadblock in ZapThink’s model, followed by transactions, choreography and
so on.

ZapThink believes that Web services management will become the next
hotly-contested battleground in Web services, ballooning from the current
$30 million market to a $9.2 billion market by 2007. While the big
enterprise players, like Computer Associates ,
Hewlett-Packard , IBM and BEA Systems
are likely to dominate by the end of that range —
ZapThink predicts large vendors will own 60 percent of the total systems
management market by 2007 — Bloomberg said there is a window of
opportunity for the smaller players to push forward.


“The key to that is really what the bigger players are up to,” Bloomberg
said. “Each of them definitely has Web services management on their product
roadmap. The key Web services management capabilities are coming 18 months
down the road.”


Bloomberg explained that the big players can’t afford to get too far ahead
of their customers, and will roll out their solutions as customer demand
warrants them. That creates the opportunity for smaller companies.

“The smaller companies have the ability to be a little bit more nimble,” he
said. Those that get in early will likely to have room to maneuver until
mid-2004, when ZapThink predicts the large system management vendors will
begin to dominate the Service-Oriented Management (SOM) space, with the SOM
point solutions segment reaching its peak in 2005.

However, with more than a dozen competitors already in the space, Bloomberg
said he expects many to fall by the wayside. Those that survive to the
point that the large system management vendors begin to take over will be
likely targets for partnerships and acquisitions. “There’s clearly going to
be consolidation and shifting business models,” Bloomberg said.


In the meantime, Web services management technologies are not likely to be
hampered due to slow development of standards, because most of the key
standards are also the core Web services standards: SOAP, WSDL and XML.
However, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information
Standards (OASIS) has begun work on a business-to-business management
standard that will allow partners to extend their Web services management
practices to partners.

“It makes sense for company A’s Web services management to be able to
communicate with company B’s Web services management,” Bloomberg said.
OASIS has not yet named the specification, but it is in development under
OASIS’ Management Protocol Technical Committee.

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