The big dogs hunt best in the Web-services field, according to Gartner Dataquest in a survey of systems integrators planning to build Web services during the next 12 months.
"There is a proliferation of Web-services products being used in the systems-integration channel," says Michele Cantara, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest's IT Services group. "However, there is an emerging distinction between the top three or four products that systems integrators will target and those Web-services products they will use on an opportunistic basis at a client's request."
In 2003, most systems integrators will turn to Microsoft .Net, IBM WebSphere, and Oracle.
In September 2002, Gartner wrapped up a survey of 44 consulting and systems-integration vendors in North America. Microsoft .Net was targeted by 58% of the systems integrators as one of the top three Web-services products to ramp up delivery capability, according to Cantara. IBM's WebSphere garnered 40% and Oracle came in third at 31%. Sun, Cantara said, was a strong fourth.
Earlier in 2002, Cantara polled enterprise end users -- those hiring integrators to build their Web-services infrastructure -- and came up with a different pattern. The survey of nearly 140 companies already using or planning to deploy Web services showed that one-third work with integrators planning to implement Microsoft .Net. Slightly more -- 39% -- of these companies' consultants and integrators plan to use Java/J2EE as the foundation for Web services.
"The end-user market is a little more fragmented," she says. "In general, the Java platforms scored higher among larger companies, those with revenues of $500 million or more. Microsoft .Net was more popular among smaller enterprises. Right now, it's pretty much an even playing field between Java and .Net. The two will coexist for a long time."
Those Java-.Net split among end users is an indication, Cantara says, of the impact of legacy applications. Large companies, which are more likely to have mainframe legacy applications, are turning to Java/J2EE to layer on Web services atop the infrastructure. Java is more popular in large-scale activities such as enterprise resource planning, Cantara notes. Smaller companies, which can start with a clean slate, more or less, find .Net more attractive and are most likely to use it for Web services related to E-commerce.
Gartner's conclusion is that while the latter are predominantly implementing Web services within the four walls of the enterprise, end users see Web services working outside the enterprise, connecting the company with suppliers, for instance.
Even these smaller companies, however, are only just starting to step outside the enterprise with Web services, Cantara says. But some maturation is going on, she adds. "Back in February 2002, the number of enterprises using the Simple Object Access Protocol and WSDL was really low, but now we're picking up indications that use is around 20%."
For enterprises deciding which systems integrator or consultant to use, Cantara has some advice. "Mostly Web services today means, 'I use XML,'" she says. "But you should look at whether the approach of the systems integrator is only an XML veneer, or one of systems architecture. My suspicion is that there's a lot of XML veneer out there."