Web services future will not be ruled by Java or .net

IT Directors planning to introduce Web services should be aware that no single supplier's strategy will dominate and companies...

IT Directors planning to introduce Web services should be aware that no single supplier's strategy will dominate and companies will have to support heterogeneous environments.

Web services technology promises to allow companies to share application data with customers and suppliers over the Internet.

An analysis from Cap Gemini Ernst & Young has revealed that two suppliers of Web services technology that will have to make their software compatible to benefit customers - Sun and Microsoft - have a poor record on interoperability.

"The .net versus Java debate is usually presented in simplistic terms of one or the other," said Andy Mulholland, chief technology officer at Cap Gemini.

"Most organisations already have Microsoft and Java and cannot contemplate a switch from both to one."

Most companies that have already taken the strategic choice to standardise on J2EE for Web services will also need to have a .net strategy.

Many organisations use Microsoft applications, particularly on the desktop, the future incarnations of which will be .net.

The end-users of Web services will not care what architecture they are built on, just what they do and how they do it. They will find it easier to access these services through the desktop interface they are familiar with, and for most that will be Microsoft Office, said Mulholland.

Early adopters have already started to work with both .net and Java. Research and development director at online auction company QXL Ricardo, David Jones, intends to draw on the advantages of both environments.

The firm's site recently launched login services and alert services built on .net, but will announce a Java-based project over the next few weeks.

At Microsoft, Peter Bell, strategy manager for the .net group, admitted that customers must prepare for a future using both Microsoft and Java.

There is no room for those who believe one technology will become the standard. "Get over it," said Bell. "People have got to accept that it is unquestionably a heterogeneous world. It can be frustrating for customers: do I go .net or Java?"

It is not just a problem internal to an organisation, because Web services, by their very nature, involve interaction with the systems of other businesses.

"The reality is that once you choose a single supplier strategy, you can guarantee the first time you need to do business electronically with another organisation, it will have chosen the other technology," Bell said.

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