Web Services Management: Poised for Takeoff

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A year ago, META Group, an industry analyst firm, said that organizations were proceeding faster with Web services implementation than expected. In Fall 2004, Radacati Group researchers forecast the market for Web services-related products and services would grow from $950 million in 2004 to more than $6 billion in four years. With more and more organizations implementing Web services strategies and the growing hype surrounding services-oriented architecture (SOA), a new market is being spawned for Web services management tools, which are needed to ensure Web services provide the business benefits they promise. ZapThink, another analyst firm that specializes in the area of Web services management specifically, has said that while this market brought in around $30 million in 2002, it’s going to grow by leaps and bounds in the next few years.

Web services management means different things depending on who you ask. When META Group did a survey on Web services, 51 percent of respondents said that they expect management capabilities to be built into Web services from the get-go. The main purpose of Web services management is similar to systems management across many realms of IT: It provides the ability to monitor the technology and send alerts when things are off-kilter. Of the 51 percent of META Group respondents who expect management capabilities to be built into Web services, 60 percent said monitoring was a top concern. But there’s more to it than that. Web services management tools can include additional functions. In fact, even more META Group respondents (nearly 80 percent) said security, including access control and identity management, was an important area of focus for Web services management capabilities.

Because Web services management can mean so many different things, it’s important to pay attention to what each vendor is offering to be sure you’re getting the kinds of management capabilities you’re looking for, whether it’s interoperability and configuration, monitoring and reporting, security or billing.

Another factor adding confusion to the marketplace is the number of organizations working on Web services standards. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) is working on Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM), which is meant to perform management functions using Web services technology. The WSDM Technical Committee is actually working on two sets of specifications: WSDM: Management Using Web Services (MUWS) and WSDM: Management of Web Services (MOWS). WSDM MUWS is meant to be a foundation for building management applications using Web services. WSDM MOWS defines a model for managing Web services as a resource. The first version of both specifications has been approved by the technical committee, and public review ended in January. For more information on OASIS and WSDM, check out www.oasis-open.org.

Adding to standards complexity, AMD, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Sun announced another specification in October 2004, Web Services Management (WS-Management), which is meant to provide a common way for IT systems to access and exchange management information. And there are still other organizations working on even more standards, including the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C, at www.w3.org), the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF, see www.dmtf.org) and the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization (www.ws-i.org).

ZapThink expects the entry of new players in the market to peak this year, then drop again as the market begins to consolidate. The main caveat for IT shops looking to implement any vendor’s solution is to be aware of these possibilities. As new standards are released and the industry consolidates, you don’t want to be left in the lurch. Make sure your vendor is able to talk about the issues and is planning to work with its existing clients as its products evolve. Otherwise, an already-pricey systems management tool could spiral beyond your budget constraints.

Big-name players in the systems management space, like BMC Software, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and others can be expected to take lead roles in the Web services management space. In fact, all four of those organizations serve on the technical committee that’s working on the WSDM specifications. Another committee member, Actional Corp., offers SOAPstation, a well-known tool offering life-cycle management, security, monitoring, provisioning and more.

Microsoft plans to support WS-Management in its next Microsoft Windows Server release as well as its next Microsoft Operations Manager release.

Other vendors to check out include AmberPoint, BEA Systems, Infravio, Itellix, Oblix, SeeBeyond, Sun Microsystems, Systinet, webMethods and WestGlobal, among many others.

For more helpful information about Web services, visit www.webservices.org. Also, check out Web Services Journal, online at www.sys-con.com/webservices/.

Emily Hollis is managing editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at ehollis@certmag.com.

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Emily Hollis


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