Jyoti Banerjee, chief executive at MyBusiness.net, which conducted the research, said end-user businesses are backing both .net and the rival Java 2 Enterprise Edition specification. In a survey of 114 heads of IT, MyBusiness.net found that 49% of user companies are running .net technologies and 30% run IBM Websphere, BEA Weblogic or J2EE.
Within the IT community, Banerjee said .net is proving a popular choice due to the wide availability of development tools and Microsoft skills. In particular, the software giant positions Visual Studio .net, its development tool for building web services, as the most appropriate platform for building Windows applications.
The popularity of .net is set to increase this year following the launch of Windows 2003, which includes a copy of the .net framework - a Microsoft architecture for building .net web services.
The common perception of web services is that they work well for linking internal IT systems together in a consistent way. But Banerjee's survey found the majority of user companies are building a mixture of internal and external web services applications. "Web services are being driven by the business and are being used to connect to outside companies," he said.
According to Banerjee, businesses are looking to use web services as another way to communicate and share information among suppliers and customers. Forty three per cent of IT chiefs in user companies said web services would be used to form the basis for e-enabled business processes.
Today, applications such as supply chain integration usually require suppliers to access internal systems through proprietary interfaces. Banerjee said web services create a cost-effective way to connect IT systems together.
"It is impossible to expect all businesses to run the same applications - web services provide a set of standards to allow one system to talk to another," he said.