Eric Knorr: Web Services Reach Critical Mass in 2004


Eric Knorr, InfoWorld's Executive Editor, has an article in CIO magazine where he predicts that Web services will reach critical mass in 2004.

A happy confluence of technology and politics has convinced me that this year will be the year when Web services begins to reach critical mass as a low-cost alternative to proprietary middleware.
From The Year of Web Services - Pundit Web Services - CIO Magazine Dec 15,2003
Referenced Thu Jan 15 2004 10:22:57 GMT-0700

Eric believes that security and performance have been holding Web services back and two recent developments make those issues tractable:

  • MIPs are always getting cheaper and IT budgets are loosening up.
  • XML firewall appliances and other intermediaries are making the job easier.

Security is tractable, but requires compute power. Network performance issues can be overcome through compression, but again this requires compute power. We can solve that through faster machines or special purpose appliances.

I think Eric misses an important hurdle and that's interoperability. In the face of what many IT shops see as a blizzard of half-baked standards, most just decide to wait. This issue comes up in the question and answer period every time I give a talk on Web services. People are uncomfortable with what they see as an only semi-stable standards future. I think Web services intermediaries play an important role here by "standards proofing" a project. With versioning and the ability to translate multiple standards into each other on the fly, Web services intermediaries provide a handy abstraction layer between different network services. Unfortunately, most IT shops don't yet sufficiently understand the role of Web services intermediaries.