According to SearchWebServices.com's recent survey, not only do Web services professionals expect their companies to spend more on Web services this year than in 2002, but a majority of respondents are also already developing or preparing to build internal Web services.
The exclusive survey, which was conducted during November and December 2002, asked 250 users who have visited SearchWebServices.com to answer questions about their roles in the selection, purchase and implementation of Web services products, their likelihood of purchasing and implementing those products, their platform preferences, and others.
Despite tough economic times, users appear ready to open their wallets to Web services. Fifty-nine percent of respondents expect their company's spending on Web services-related products, technology and services to increase in 2003. In fact, 44% expect it to increase by 6% or more.
Daniel Sholler, vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm Meta Group, said that's not surprising, even though many companies' overall IT budgets are being cut.
Sholler said Meta Group research on projected 2003 spending shows that IT professionals expect to spend significantly on related technologies such as middleware/EAI, portals and application services. Many survey respondents may expect some Web services technology spending to fall into those other categories, according to Sholler.
However, since approximately a third of respondents classified themselves as developers or middle managers, Sholler suggested that even though their knowledge of Web services usage is likely to be accurate, their indications about future spending might not be as on-target.
Additionally, 51% of respondents specified that they have already implemented internal enterprise Web services or plan to do so within one year. Only 10% have no current plans to implement internal enterprise Web services.
"That makes perfect sense to me," said Sholler, "because the reality is, with many of the modern tools, especially Microsoft's tools, it's pretty darn easy to create internal Web services, and most of the Java environments are approaching that level of simplicity as well."
What's even more encouraging for the industry is that 49% of respondents said their companies have either already implemented external or Internet Web services, or they intend to do so within 12 months.
Since building external Web services presents more challenges than internal ones, Sholler said, the high percentage might reflect that a number of companies haven't progressed far enough into the implementation process to realize those challenges.
"People are trying it out to prove they can do it, but you're going to get into a fair amount of challenges in deploying an externally facing Web service to a large audience," he said. Those challenges include security and keeping data updated.
Respondents indicated that they favor Microsoft's stable of Web services development tools, with 42% specifying that their primary Web services development platform is made up of Microsoft .NET technologies. Half as many favored Sun Open Net Environment (ONE) or Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) tools.
Sholler said it is unlikely that Microsoft has such a sizable advantage over SunONE and J2EE, and some users may have been put off by the few choices the survey presented. He added that since those who took the survey are already inclined to use Web services, the results help prove that Microsoft is winning the public relations battle.
"The two big vendors that people look to are Microsoft and IBM, and Microsoft clearly has done the best job of marketing, talking about how their tools and their platforms are the things you need for developing Web services," Sholler said. "I still get questions from our customers about whether they really need .NET to do Web services. The association is that strong, sometimes."
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