Lack of Skilled Devs Slows Web Services

Web services adoption is still being slowed by a lack of readily-available skilled devs, according to the latest survey from Evans Data Corp. See why 1-in-5 IT managers still say they can't find enough talent who know how to build web services and interfaces.

Tags: Web Services, Evans, Management, Respondents, Survey, XML, Devs,

Evans' Spring 2005 Web Services/SOA Development Survey found
1-in-5 IT managers said they can't find enough web services-savvy talent. Particularly acute, Evans found, is the shortage of skilled professionals "who understand the various specifications and the way to build the interfaces."

Evans also noted that respondents look at web services skills is a world apart from traditional Java/J2EE or .NET dev expertise.

"Web services is unlike other types of IT skill sets because it requires a range of expertise from across the organization," Evans said. "Individuals must not only be able to bring together disparate systems such as mainframes, Java, and Windows, but must also be well-acquainted with business process management, security, and business partner interfaces."

Here's a thumbnail look at some key findings

XML - A Mixed bag

While almost three-quarters (74%) of all respondents said they were familiar with basic XML skills, 23% said they still have trouble understanding XML Schema and XML DTDs. "Not only is the syntax often hard to grasp, but writing good schema or DTDs often requires considerable experience," Evans said. And, Evans also found 17% of devs still grappling with XML performance and throughout issues, another 14% with concern about growing XML document size; and still another 12% facing difficulty pulling data and out of different data sources.

Web Services Consulting Costs Too High?

However, a notable minority (19%) said that web services could actually add costs to integration projects. "This segment's view of the issue may include requirements for outside consultants or more end-user demands for enhanced functionality," Evans said. On the topic of web services consulting, Evans found almost one-quarter of respondents looking for outside help for proper design, development and security.

Eager to Explore Web Services-To-Legacy Tie-ins

Evans also found a group of IT shops pushing the envelop on web services projects, exploring how web services can help them tie into older, legacy systems - including mainframes, midrange computing apps, and even software running on aging UNIX and Windows environments. In fact, the percentage of respondents citing legacy code integration as a hurdle to web services has almost doubled from Evans' first survey in fall 2003 -- from 8% to 15%.

Web Services as EAI Replacement?

In a similar vein, more than half of respondents (59%) told Evans that "web services can [either] significantly or somewhat lower costs" to implement EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) implementations. Evans called this finding "significant," since EAI was previously a big-budget project that required an entire middleware layer of composite applications built to replicate legacy processes.

But What about the WS-Management Tools?

And even if IT shops are lucky enough to find the right people, some are still having trouble finding the right tools. Evans found one-third (33%) of respondents are evaluating Web services management toolsets. Evans says the slow adoption to web services management tools, in part, can be linked to a lack of robust tools that can provide end-to-end monitoring and management of enterprise web services.

"Web services management has been the domain of smaller, specialized vendors; large infrastructure vendors have only just begun to enter this space. These large enterprise systems management vendors - BEA, IBM, BMC, and Microsoft - are just starting to offer solutions," Evans said.

The Evans' Spring 2005 Web Services/SOA Development Survey was based on surveys/interviews with a cross-section of hands-on developers and technical managers. Almost 47% of survey respondents have hands-on knowledge of application development through their work as programmers or software engineers. Another 31% are project leaders, software architects, or systems analysts, and approximately 16% are in management.