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Third parties fill Web services holes

Third parties fill Web services holes

While the major companies promoting Web services are garnering the lion's share of attention, a number of smaller US companies are expected this week to announce products that enable the building and delivering of Web services.

The big guns driving Web services thus far -- Microsoft, Sun, IBM, Oracle, and Hewlett-Packard -- will primarily offer the frameworks and tools for building Web services, but will look to third parties to fill in some of the blanks, analysts said.

"The rolling out of strategies by the big guys makes it inevitable that smaller companies will pop up with solutions that run on [the major vendor's] platforms," said David Smith, vice president of Internet strategies at analyst Gartner. "In some cases, they're taking things more from the business perspective than the big players."

Smith continued that customers tend to look at the business reasons for moving toward Web services, rather than doing so for technology's sake.

This week will also see a number of companies touting a variety of new Web services-enabling products, several of them demonstrating to customers the solid business reasons for considering Web services. Webgain, a tools vendor, will unveil an assembly tool that integrates application components so they can be delivered as Web services, according to a source. The announcement will be made on Wednesday at Gartner Group's ITxpo in Italy.

Back in the US, San Francisco-based Avinon on Monday announced NetScenario, an application platform on which companies can transform their existing infrastructure into modular Web-based applications, according to Kamran Kheirolomoom, the company's CEO.

Avinon, like several other third-parties that are emerging with Web services products, is vendor neutral.

Velocigen this week plans to roll out software that can unify content and applications across a variety of systems, allowing it to be exposed to the Web, and thereby offered as a Web service.

By supporting the current de facto Web services standards -- UDDI, XML, SOAP (simple object access protocol), and WSDL (Web service description Language -- Velocigen's product lets companies offer Web services from their existing infrastructures, said Tony Darugar, president and chief software architect at Velocigen.

Meanwhile, Curl, a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is set by the end of this month to commercialise an infrastructure specifically for delivering Web services.

A host of other companies, including Bowstreet and Epicentric, also provide vendor-neutral products that operate on top of Web services platforms from the major vendors.

Gartner's Smith said that these early movers have their work cut out.

"The biggest issue is that they are working with cutting-edge technology that in a lot of people's minds is still unproven," he said.


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