Web services are the future, panelists say

In a few years Web services will be silent fixtures inside computer screens, seamlessly translating and linking applications from different companies for different platforms, panelists at the Comnet trade show in Washington said today.

'People don't debate about TCP/IP. They use it to talk to their networks,' said Adam Bosworth, senior vice president and chief architect of advanced development for BEA Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif. 'In the future, people won't debate about Web services. They'll use it to talk to their applications.'

Until then, the debate around Web services'budding technology that links applications across several platforms and networks'centers on more than 135 proposals for interoperability standards that would allow the applications to communicate. Bosworth also called during the discussion for an industry standard for reliable asynchronous messaging across networks and, eventually, for mobile devices.

'I'm sure the debate will continue as to the best way to do that,' said Neil Charney, director of Microsoft Corp.'s platform strategy group.

In the face-off over standards, some vendors fiercely market their own proprietary server products, hoping customers buy their entire package, including Web services. Others back open-source programs.

'We need to pay attention to Web choreography'how the software of one vendor talks and formats with another,' said Ted Farrell, architect and director of strategy for application development tools at Oracle Corp. 'All of us need to stay that course and focus on that.'

Vendors such as Microsoft and IBM Corp. have built Web services components into their software systems, and analysts said the companies have had varying degrees of success in securing those services.

But the growth of Web services would allow agencies to run software applications that previously couldn't communicate with their operating systems.

'This is going to let those [organizations] run services on any operating system they want,' said Bob Sutor, Web services technology director for IBM, which Sutor said has pushed Linux systems. 'The world does not run on Windows.'


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