Gartner is advising Australian companies to take up Web services now, or risk losing out to competitors embracing the technology.
Gartner research vice-president, Dion Wiggins, said businesses should start rethinking their IT structure and employ Web services now.
By 2008, those without Web Services or Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) would find their competitors had left them in the dust, he said.
“Company’s doing this [Web services] today, definitely have a competitive and strategic advantage over their competitors,” Wiggins said.
According to Wiggins, Web services are one of the fundamental underlying technologies speeding up business processes. Irrespective of programming language, operating system or computer platform, the technology allows for different applications to communicate with each other.
“Think of drawing a flowchart, pressing a button and that flow chart is executed,” he said. “That’s a reality today with some of the more advanced tools, once you have the Web services building blocks underneath.”
Interoperability, rather than integration, was the catch cry of Web services and the SOA model, Wiggins said.
“With integration it’s a square peg in a round hole,” he said. “With interoperability, you’re designing an application to work with something else even though you don’t know what that may be, or who the end users will be.”
Wiggins said enterprises with memories of broken promises around product quality management and business process re-engineering in the 1990s might be skeptical of the benefits of the technology. But they should be assured by the strict adherence vendors providing Web services have to internationally recognised protocols. “In the ‘90s you had to write your own proprietary code,” he said. “When you have a standard you get vendors that produce products for that standard. Now all the development tools support the Web services standards.
“With the three protocols: simple object access protocol (SOAP), Web services description language (WSDL), and universal description discovery integration (UDDI) we now have a consistent way to communicate.”
Wiggins said more than 80 per cent of software vendors currently claimed to support Web services. But it was important enterprises looking to employ the technology assess the level of Web services support from these vendors.
In order to take advantage of Web services, organisations must also refresh their IT infrastructure and begin to build an SOA, he said.
Process-orientated businesses, such as those involved in finance, insurance and banking sectors, had already begun taking up Web services and the SOA model, Wiggins said.
He claimed 2006-07 would see the top 2000 global companies pick up the technology and make it mainstream. Government and SMB would finally follow in 2008.