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Web Services: Floor Wax or Dessert Topping?
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Web Services: Floor Wax or Dessert Topping?
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Lately you can't go anywhere without hearing about Web Services. Web Services have become the topic-of-the-moment in most trade rags, lunchtime discussions at software companies, and VC conferences. What is all of this hype about Web Services? What IS a Web Service? Why is it important and who should care? And most importantly, what are the opportunities for start-ups? These are a few of the questions Accelent has been investigating over the past several months. We have attended conferences, poured over white papers, talked to and worked with software vendors, and swapped opinions with VCs as we try to understand where it will all lead. To answer the question about what "it" is, I was reminded of a popular analogy from a Saturday Night Live skit, that promoted a product by stating "it's a floor wax AND a dessert topping" meaning it serves all of your needs. The hype around Web Services also proposes to solve all our computing needs - which is not the case. But, it does promise to be a pretty good floor wax.

The 2001 mantra was that the adoption of Web Services within the enterprise would result in more flexible application infrastructures, easier application integration, reduced development time and costs, and collaborative commerce with partner and suppliers. As we begin 2002, the projected opportunities for this technology, presumed to be infinite in 2001, seem to be hitting a more realistic plateau. A healthy skepticism has developed about the technology and its promise. Much of the debate around the topic of Web Services centers on its role in the enterprise infrastructure and in its application to e-commerce. Where does the real value lie? To answer this, you can't survey users because very few actual implementations of this new technology have been deployed. But large established market leaders and early stage start-ups alike are developing product strategies to capitalize on the promise it brings. Is this rational planning for the future, or a defocusing distraction caused by the latest bright and shiny new thing?

Our intent in this paper is to provide an overview of Web Services and our view on its impact on the software industry. We hope to provide a few answers to some basic questions on what Web Services are, including a technical overview of the current standards. We also discuss the platform wars between J2EE and .Net and the key issues for IT departments that will impact adoption in the coming years. Lastly, we identify where we see the most interesting opportunities for software vendors and summarize our position on its impact on the industry.

Read More:

What a Web Service Is - and Isn't
Web Services - Low Hanging Fruit
Future Standards Development
The Platform Wars: Unix/Windows; J2EE/.Net - Here We Go Again!
The Enterprise IT Perspective
The Opportunities
Phase I: Infrastructure
Phase II: Enterprise Application Integration
Phase III: B2B Commerce and Supply Chain
Phase IV: Enterprise Application Vendors
Ancillary Business Opportunities
Appendix: Standards

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Web Services: A Floor Wax or Dessert Topping?
A Business Opportunity White Paper

About Accelent

Accelent provides strategic management services to help software startups accelerate marketing strategies, planning, and execution. With a focus on enterprise infrastructure and applications, Accelent consultants offer strategic counsel, assist with projects, and fill interim management roles on a full-time or part-time basis. Bridging the gap between strategy and execution, Accelent develops successful strategies and delivers results through highly targeted marketing programs, even with limited budgets. Accelent is the answer for early stage startups that don't have the internal resources needed to position and launch the company or a new product. Accelent also helps later stage companies fill gaps in the management team, research and develop new products or programs, or adjust marketing strategies. Because Accelent consultants have a solid understanding of technology, learning curves are short and they rapidly assimilate the challenges at hand. They also bring valuable industry experience and knowledge to kick-start new marketing initiatives at any stage of a company's development. Accelent delivers value through innovative marketing strategies, actionable plans, and successful program execution - with proven results.

About the Author

Barbara Angius Saxby ( founded Accelent ( to help software startups accelerate marketing strategies, planning, and execution. She specializes in positioning and launching enterprise infrastructure and application companies. Barbara is a senior marketing executive with over 20 years experience in strategic marketing management and has done extensive work internationally. Her experience includes both strategic project work and interim positions as vice president of marketing at the following companies: Reactivity (application security), Wakesoft (adaptive development platform), Taviz Technology (EAI adapters) Kirus (service supply chain management), Extricity/Peregrine (B2B relationship management), ECNet (SCM Services), Annuncio/BrightInfo (e-Commerce software), uRoam (remote access), NetScreen (network security appliances), and Resonate (traffic management). Prior to her consulting career, which began with Acuitive in 1998, Barbara was VP of Marketing for several software startups focused on application development and she spent nine years at Dataquest in a variety of analyst and marketing roles in the US and Europe. Barbara has degrees in Psychology and Sociology from San Jose University and completed post-graduate business courses at UC Berkeley including software venture financing.

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