TechEd: Work starts on Web services in Europe

Web services are set to grow next year with 90% of European developers and IT professionals saying they will develop services in...

Web services are set to grow next year with 90% of European developers and IT professionals saying they will develop services in 2003, according to a survey of delegates planning to attend this week's Microsoft TechEd conference in Barcelona.

More than 1,750 people, from 62 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa answered the online survey during May and June, Microsoft said.

Web services are software and data services shared, via XML, between companies' Web servers. They are widely expected to replace EDIs (Electronic Data Interchanges) between businesses and, eventually, to create fully interconnected business operations.

More than half of survey respondents, 54%, said that their organisations are currently developing Web services and 90% will do so in 2003, Microsoft said.

Almost all of those already working on Web services, some 94%, said that such services will open up new business opportunities, and 66% said that Web services would help people understand the value that technology brings to a business.

Web services are most popular within the banking industry, business services and travel and transport markets, Microsoft said, with the telecommunication and distribution industries close behind.

However, Gartner analyst Alan Macneela, sounded a note of caution.

"Mainstream adoption of Web services is four to five years out. In the longer term, they will become an important part of the IT landscape, but at the moment what's being done is fairly low level."

While people are currently developing basic Web services, the standards needed for security in integrated Web services are still being developed, and those needed for full-scale business relationship Web services will not be ready for some time, he said.

In a small survey of his own, Macneela found few people admitting to Web service development. "They didn't believe a lot of the hype," he said. However, the difference between his own survey and Microsoft's may lie in the respondents.

"Developers - the people going to Tech Ed - like new stuff and Web services are sexy and interesting. Managers - the people I spoke to - have to fund it. They may be giving developers projects to work on but they're not planning large-scale development."

Macneela advised organisations to get started on Web service development for low-risk business areas, to learn the skills and be ready for future developments.

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