by Christopher Koch

Can You and Your Business Trust Web Services?

Sep 15, 20052 mins
Web Development

Some CIOs dream of kicking out their integration vendors and replacing their messaging infrastructures with free, standard Web services. That would eliminate the usual problems of incompatibility across different platforms, expensive software and vendor lock-in. But limitations still exist in the standards and the transport pipe that Web services use to communicate: the Web, or, more specifically, the HTTP transport protocol.

Think about all the times you’ve attempted to access a website or send an e-mail and failed—without any notification or explanation. That’s the problem. Partly because Web services standards have not yet been fully developed to ensure secure, reliable transactions and partly because the Web itself is inherently unreliable, CIOs have to look beyond Web services to guarantee that their service object workflows inside and outside the company will not break down.

Vendors are filling the gaps in Web services standards with products that provide a stable messaging infrastructure and manage the services in an integration layer. Though the market is still fragmented into niches, it’s rapidly consolidating. And just as in enterprise software, vendors are assembling expensive integration suites that are not always easy to buy by the chunk—which can make initial investments expensive and difficult to justify. But for the foreseeable future, investments in proprietary middleware are necessary to build a reliable integration layer.