Gartner Reports on Dev Opportunities in Web Services

Recent research from Gartner Dataquest finds there will be a strong pick up in demand for developers and integrators with skills using XML, SOAP, .NET and Java. In this report for IDN from senior Gartner analysts, developers get in-depth data on how IT execs plan to deploy web services over the next 12 months -- from the projects being built to the products being used. See why Gartner says devs with skills in Microsoft, Oracle and IBM have the most momentum.

Tags: Web Services, Integration, Web Services Projects, Enterprises, Technology, Developers, Skills,

Michele Cantara, IT Services Principal Analyst
Gartner Inc.

Recent research from Gartner Dataquest finds web services picking up momentum among enterprisemanagers, and suggests a strong pick up in demand for developers and integrators with skills using XML, SOAP, .NET and Java.

For the near-term, we found more than 9 out of 10 large enterprises in North America (92%) claim they are adopting web services
, within systems integration projects underway now or planned in the next 12 months. Careful examination of the standards used in this project shows that most of these enterprises are only using XML and in Gartner's definition are not really using web services at all.

The vast majority (80%) of these enterprises were using Microsoft .NET, Oracle or IBM products as their preferred web services integration platforms in their SI projects.. Traditional middleware or "integration broker" technologies (from WebMethods, SeeBeyond, Vitria, etc.) accounted for less than 10-15% of web services activity. [Middleware also includes: application servers, message-oriented middleware, transaction processing managers, integration brokers and object request brokers.]

Web services is also changing the way large enterprises are using consulting and system integrators (SIs). Rather than a "do it for me now" model, there is a shift to the "teach us how to do it" model. That is going to lower some costs for on-going web services-based integration projects, will change the dynamic of how SIs and in-house developers work together, bringing about more blended teams and customer team models.

Gartner Dataquest conducted two Web-based surveys in late January through February 2003 and focused on purchasing behavior of enterprises for software and professional services used with Web services projects. Responding companies ranged in size from 1,000 to 5,000 employees.

In this article, we look to share some of the findings that will shed some light on two key questions for developers: What do trends in web services means for the individual IT professional? What kind of impact will this new technology and supporting architecture, have on companies, and the projects they take on?

Overall Web Services Trends

As with any much-hyped phenomenon, the usefulness of Web services needs to be put into perspective.

In our surveys of IT hiring managers, budget owners and evaluators we found these common themes:

  • Interest in using web services is high; but users lack a clear understanding of web services requirements; 92% of our respondents said they are or will be using Web services in the next 12 months, but the vast majority are only using XML and are in fact not using true web services.

  • Integration with internal applications is the number one reason most companies are using Web services; security, personalizing applications, and web content management are the runners-up

  • Right now the majority of Web services projects are implemented by both in-house personnel and assistance from outside consulting

  • The conclusion: It is the perception of the market that Web services can make it easier to link to selected business partners and can simplify application integration, and it is the hope that they can be a key enabler of a today's current cost-savings "make do with what we have" approach many enterprise managers have toward leveraging current software assets.

    Even though web services are not going to eliminate all enterprise integration problems, many enterprises are experimenting with Web services in the form of pilots and prototypes to better understand how this new technology can improve their business. Regulations such as HIPAA are also driving Web services as an integration vehicle in the health care industry, and the use of web services for B2B solutions is becoming more prevalent.

    Gartner Dataquest estimates that the IT professional services market for Web-services-enabled IT professional services was $14 billion in 2002, and that it will more than double ($29 billion) by 2006.

    Further, we predict by 2006, the IT professional services market will start to see the effects of Web services in a decrease in demand for "technology plumbing" services that are simplified using a Web services approach. Further by 2006., virtually all (99%) of new products in the AIM (application integration middleware) market will have some level of support for web services.

    Now let's take a deeper look at how these web services trends may affect your current job, and longer-term career opportunities, what follows is a summary of some of the key finding of most interest to developers (both enterprise and SI contractors).

    Web Services Project Profile - Inside the Numbers

    Here are some data about the most popular standards, brands and servers being used in Web services or being planned for future Web service projects. This information came from surveys we did with the CIOs and Senior IT managers.

    What types of projects are being built with web services

    Finding: Integration, security, personalization (portals) and Web content management are the most popular web services project types.

    Who does the work?

    Finding: Most enterprises are using a multi-sourcing approach to obtaining Web services expertise. Ninety-five percent are using in-house resources, 47 percent are also getting assistance from an external service provider, and another 30 percent are working with consultants supplied by a software provider.

    Is web services changing how CIOs scope current integration work with SIs?

    Finding: Close to three-quarters of enterprises that are using or planning to use a systems integrator by February 2004 will deploy Web services tools or techniques in their SI projects. However, most of these deployments will be relatively unsophisticated and will not meet Gartner's criteria for a true web services solution.

    What are the challenges to implementing web services solutions?

    Finding: Enterprises noted that business process analysis and improvement along with training were the topmost challenges in implementing web services projects. Training was a more significant concern among small and medium sized enterprises.

    Which software product(s) are being used for web services?

    Finding: More than 90 percent of the time, the respondents were using or planning to use a database and/or application server to build or integrate in the Web services project. Management, testing and configuration tools for the ongoing monitoring of deployed code rated more than 40 percent, with the use of an integration broker at 23 percent.

    What products do you plan to use?

    Finding: Virtually all respondents had a mix of Microsoft and Java platforms throughout their enterprise. More than 90 percent of the time, the respondents were using or planning to use an application server for developing new applications in current and planned Web services projects. Microsoft .NET and the "freeware" Apache are the most common application server brands, followed by Oracle and IBM. Interestingly, three of the top four are the major database vendors. BEA is fifth with Sun and Novell Silverstream filling out the top application server vendors.

    Which web services standards are you using/planning to use?

    Finding: A comparison of Web services adoption in North America SI projects in August 2002 vs. February 2003 shows solid uptake in the adoption of XML (80%) and SOAP (31%). Key standards were XML and SOAP, with more complex derivatives (such as ebXML) well below 10%, but gaining some attention UDDI adoption is largely in the "planning stages," at 14%.

    What technologies have the most aggressive support among SIs?

    Finding: In a separate survey of consulting and SI vendors conducted in October 2002, Microsoft, Oracle, and WebSphere were the top three products slated for skills development investments by SIs. Specifically, 58% of services vendors indicated that they plan to establish .NET delivery capability in the next 12 months. More than 35 percent of survey participants cited .NET as their top Web services product, which suggests to us that .NET has a very solid footing in the systems integrator channel.

    As for traditional J2EE app server support, 40% of consultants and systems integrators also noted that WebSphere was one of the top three products in which they planned to build Web services delivery capability during the next year. Oracle and Sun followed.

    A Glimpse into the Future -- Web Services 2006-2007

    Where will all this lead a few years from now? How should a developer position him/herself for the coming changes?

    In our view, the maturing of web services means good news, and many new opportunities for in-house developers. This is because the "integration benefits of web services will be more readily recognized by users, and more easily implemented by leading software vendors, including Microsoft, Oracle and IBM, among others. The result will be strong demand for web services skills for the top web services platforms.

    However, the demand for web services skills will not be limited to product and technology skills. Enterprises are already grappling with how to define and align business processes with web services. The highest in-demand skills will be for solution architects who able to couple business process analysis capabilities with technology design skills.

    Because many enterprise execs want to base their web services deployments on technologies now deployed onsite (Microsoft, Oracle, IBM), those vendors now among the top three in each web services category are likely to remain in the top three to five through 2007.

    By 2006 virtually all (99%) 99 percent of AIM software to also be Web-services-enabled. As AIM products embrace web services standards, we anticipate a slow but steady reduction in the "services-to-software" revenue ratio.

    As end users take the next-step in web services, they will need support for (1) resolving discrepancies in business semantics, (2) security and (3) orchestration.

    A Bottom Line for Web Services Devs

    The bottom line: As web services technolgoies mature in these three areas, enterprises will be able to obtain web services components from software firms as well as from Sis. While the market may reach a stage in which in house developers can "assemble web services," the meta data skills to make "the assembly of web services" work together remains more of an art than a science.

    Recognizing that a blend of technology and business process oriented skills will be in highest demand as a result of web services, and watching for the software and SI vendors that more readily deliver those capabilities, will be key to a developer's ticket to new successes with web services.

    Joanne Correia, is Gartner's vice president of Software Industry Research; Michele Cantara, is a Gartner principal analyst for IT Services. This article is based on materials Ms. Correia and Ms. Cantara present around the country.