Web services end users in

Web services end users in short supply ::: Here I am at this conference, sitting at a computer with a direct Internet connection. In the past ten minutes, I’ve checked e-mail (home e-mail through Hotmail, work e-mail through Outlook Web Access), read the news, I’m posting an update to my web site (through blogger.com), and I’ve checked our CRM system for any activities going on at customers I need to worry about. The web has achieved ubiquity… but many are asking “what’s next?”
A recent conference hosted by InfoWorld focused on Web Services. Microsoft made a splash with their .Net announcement last year, but they’re hardly the only ones. Sun, IBM, and Oracle are talking about developing a more modular, component-style interface to their back-end apps. The goal – to allow multiple components to “talk” to each other instead of using stand-alone apps. The trends contributing to this – ever-cheapening bandwidth, increasingly powerful desktops and nearly-free storage – all point in that direction. The standards arising – XML, SOAP, and others – indicate that we may be approaching a technical landscape in which different apps can actually talk to each other! So where are they?
Microsoft Passport is a service. Instant messenger apps (AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, etc.) are web services. Blogger.com is a web service, just like Userland’s Radio 8 and Movable Type are web services. The conference (link is at the beginning of this post) held earlier this month suggests that a number of vendors are on the bandwagon – but also demonstrates that end users aren’t yet arriving en masse.
The question this raises: how does a services metaphor for computing change how companies acquire technology? What do they pay for? Will the services model be any more successful than the ASP fad of a couple years ago? (Perhaps the true value of a services model is that it allows firms to selectively decide which parts of their infrastructure they can outsource, without having to go all-or-nothing.)

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