Friday, July 15, 2005

Web Services – Slowly it Comes

Web Services continue to generate press coverage with a continuous wave of tools offered up but how fast are users adopting those tools? It seems like user adoption is moving rather slowly. The current flavor of the month is Ajax. It consists of several technologies rolled into one including a standards-based presentation using XHTML, dynamic display using Document Object Model, data interchange using XML, and asynchronous data retrieval.

For those unfamiliar with Web Services it provides exchange of data between applications across the web. OASIS and W3C provide the standards which are still evolving.

In this primer on Web Services the author attributes the success of the web to its simplicity and ubiquity which contrasts to the slow adoption of web services due to the lack of standards. Microsoft’s Passport effort crashed and burned because of the use of proprietary tools and the general lack of standards.

Also, Web Services still reside in the world of IT. It has yet to move into the non-computer programmer space the way other programs have like Excel. This is an interesting area to work in. One company doing so is StrikeIron which released a product that brings the use of Web Services to the non-programmer.

Another reason for the slow adoption rate is the lack of security and transaction management built into the architecture. With the increasing rise of virus and other attacks, security is now a top issue in most web-based application programs.

Finally, the cost of moving to a new programming language slows the adoption rate. Shifting from traditional programming languages into Service Oriented ones comes at a price. The price depends on a programmer’s current skills. A C++ programmer can be retrained to work with SOA applications in 5 months at a cost of $23,000 according to a Gartner study. A COBOL programmer on the other hand will require 12 months of retraining at a cost of $67,000. SOA languages make heavy reuse of components, so programmers familiar with object-oriented techniques have a lower hurdle to overcome.

If you are working with Web Services, I would like to hear from you. Please email me at hall.martin@ni.com.
Best regards,
Hall T. Martin