Breaking Into Web Services
The Web services market has steadily grown during the past few years, and with this increase, Web services have continued to evolve and diversify. In the Web services market—like any growing market—competition continues to increase as well. Because the Web services market includes such a vast amount of services and providers of services, Web developers or architects have almost an unlimited amount of options in which they could specialize. With the increasing popularity of service-oriented architecture (SOA), an underlying structure supporting communications between services, one thing is clear: Web developers and architects need to be well versed in Web platforms and broaden their skills to break into or stay competitive in the Web services job market.
According to Al Valvano, business and product strategy group manager for Microsoft Learning’s certification and assessment operations, the Web and Web services as well as certification curriculums continue to be a core part of Microsoft’s business strategy. “From a skills perspective there is an incredible shortage of skills in terms of people wanting to demonstrate and validate that they are able to do good Web services and Web development,” Valvano said. “Our overall certification credential figures show that the second fastest area of certification right now is in Web development, and it is only second to help desk in terms of a year-over-year growth rate basis of all of our Microsoft Certified Professional portfolio credentials. So from this data—from a skill standpoint—the Web services market is does not look saturated.”
If there is in fact a shortage of qualified Web developers and architects, Web services might be an excellent field to break into. According to Miko Matsumura, vice president of technology standards for Infravio, a provider of SOA technologies based on open software and standards, and chair of the OASIS SOA Adoption Blueprints Technical Committee, to be successful professionals should follow the SOA trend and join an established SOA/Web services company.
“SOA increases the importance of IT architects as well as people who can bridge the IT/business gap with knowledge about business management and IT,” Matsumura said. “The implications to business are significant and transformative, and professionals should be aware of these implications to advance their career prospects. In terms of startup companies, I believe it is too late in the game for late entrants in pure-play SOB/Web services. Most successful companies in SOA/Web services have been building infrastructure for about five years already.”
But how can you differentiate yourself in this vast web of Web services? Well, one answer is through certification, of course. “For somebody that is interested in breaking into Web development or professional development skills, we typically hear from hiring managers and organizations that they don’t expect people to have the judgment that comes with experience and they are not necessarily looking for a candidate to be able to do high-level design work or architecture work,” Valvano said. “But what they are really looking for is someone very well versed on the core concepts and knowledge, someone who has practical experience in working in a software development environment, in working with debugging tools, working with shared source code, etc. And certification is a great tool to validate and show that potential employer that you have the skills.”
Another way to differentiate yourself is to be knowledgeable of SOA and the emerging standards for both SOA and Web services. “It’s important for Web services developers and SOA practitioners to think of standards as parts of a whole work in progress. The current state-of-the-art includes sets of more robust standards. There’s a market and a reasonable chance for mainstream commerce to be established using what’s available today. Eventually standards like ISO 9000 will standardize every detail of how to take advantage of SOA and Web services including behaviors and processes. This is when the laggards and late majority can feel safe to join this, but the late adopters will not be the beneficiaries of this advance in capability and expose themselves to the potential to be acquired or out-competed in the marketplace,” Matsumura explained.
As the Web services market continues to grow, so will the scrutiny over standards. “The biggest driving force in the market will be the governance of human individuals and organizations,” Matsumura said. “Today, software infrastructure is overly focused on solving problems of machines, scalability, routing, storage, replication, availability and other technical issues. People will continue to be the lynchpin of business activity—the regulatory, organization, political, social and economic behavior of people—and the greatest leaps in software will be increased understanding and support of technologies to maximize the efficiencies of this behavior.”
–Cari McLean, firstname.lastname@example.org