Feds catching the next wave in government



The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on Web services is based on a telephone survey of 100 government GCN readers.

Many government managers and specialists in a GCN telephone survey see Web services as the next big wave in government IT.

'Web services are the coming thing,' said a Veterans Affairs Department IT specialist in Washington.

'In the future it will greatly improve our customer services,' said an Agriculture Department system administrator in Tucson, Ariz.

There was at least one dissenter. 'I have concerns about whether [Web services] are as effective as advertised,' said a Naval Air Depot IT administrator in Imperial Beach, Calif.

Eighty-seven percent of survey participants said it will be very important to have Web services technologies deployed across government systems in the next three to five years.

Web services are essentially a way of linking systems via the Internet using Extensible Markup Language as a core component, making possible cross-platform, application-to-application data sharing.

While Web services technologies are just starting to make inroads into the government IT landscape, many respondents'88 percent'reported that Web services technologies had been implemented at their agencies.

Not clearly defined

It isn't clear, however, how many of those respondents were thinking specifically of XML-based Web services technologies when they answered that question. Indeed, Web services remain a bit arcane even to some IT professionals, the survey showed.

More than a quarter of participants'27 percent'acknowledged that they had only limited (15 percent) or no clear understanding (12 percent) of Web services and how they work. 'It's not clearly defined,' said one respondent.

Among those who were knowledgeable, many said security holes are a major concern. 'Its use presents some security issues,' said a Defense Logistics Agency operations-support chief in Stockton, Calif.

'The more you put into Web services, the more security you need,' said a network administrator at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Others said funding was a hurdle. 'It's very expensive to implement,' said a National Park Service computer specialist in Herndon, Va.

Some cited cultural impediments. 'It's hard getting everyone to realize how important it is to implement Web services,' said a Social Security Administration system coordinator in Philadelphia.

'There is a lot of resistance from upper management on certain projects,' said a Defense Logistics Agency computer specialist in Cumberland, Pa.

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