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Newness of Web Service Technology

Most technologies are over hyped in their first two years because it typically takes that long for the platforms to mature to the point of fixing initial problems and the toolsets to become powerful enough to provide good solutions. During this time, you usually hear a lot of people promoting all the virtues of the new technology, but few of the issues have actually been discovered. Those issues can only be found with time and work. At the time of this publication, Web services are still in this phase of maturity.

Conversely, the same technology will usually be under recognized after the four- to five-year mark. This is unfortunate because at this point the industry would've learned how to work with the technology effectively, staff would've come up to speed, and the tools would be mature. But, because of the initial over-hype situation and the failure to live up to initial expectations, the technology in question can quite often be orphaned by the very same people who were its biggest initial champions or, worse yet, be replaced with the new solution of the week. That's not to say that the technology is totally abandoned. Rather, it is often the case that the technology has just moved beyond the "fad" phase and into the realm of being useful (sometimes extremely so), but no longer "sexy."

Figure 3.1 illustrates the typical technology adoption and maturity lifecycle.

Figure 3.1Figure 3.1 The typical technology hype/usefulness life-cycle.

Because Web services are a relatively young technology, the standards and specifications are evolving rapidly. Applications built on one version of the specification can be quickly outdated. The specifications are also still evolving in some areas of Web services. As a result, some vendors have chosen to provide their own proprietary solutions rather than wait for a standard to emerge.

Also, because the Web service area is relatively new, a large number of vendors are fighting for market share. Although this stimulates innovation, it also means that developers who buy into the wrong vendor might be orphaned a year or two down the road and be forced to switch to another vendor's solution. This can be a big headache and cost a good deal of time and money. Even though Web services are built on standards, each vendor has its own way of implementing those standards, which could require major retooling of your system if you have to change toolsets. All markets go through a shakeout period in which the most popular (and usually powerful) products remain and the majority of the others fade away. This has not happened yet with the Web services tools market.

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