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Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: Is It 'Clash Of The Titans II' In Emerging Web Services?

At first glance, you might think from our cover illustration that our big story this week is about Microsoft towering over the little guys, all those small or emerging companies that just can't compete with the software giant and certainly don't have the marketing machines to stand out in a crowd.

Not exactly. We're talking about Microsoft's position over Sun Microsystems in the emerging Web-services market. Currently, Sun has a lot of blank spots in its own strategy. Its SunOne Web-services platform, which includes the iPlanet Application server, was launched in February 2001, more than seven months after Microsoft unveiled its Web-services initiative, Microsoft.Net. But big gaps still remain. Meanwhile, Microsoft is set to take its .Net strategy a few big steps forward with Visual Studio.Net, a development tool suite and platform software layer, among other additions.

Let's be honest. The Web-services market is nascent. The goal of helping companies more easily integrate applications and business processes is a great one, and perhaps Sun has plenty of time to patch its strategy before business-technology managers are ready to commit to a Web-services plan. It also has plenty of strengths, not the least of which is the reliability of Solaris, especially compared with Windows.

If you're evaluating various options, our stories should give you something to sink your teeth into. And if you find the whole business of Web services to still be rather murky (especially because many companies define them in different ways and standards are still emerging), take a look back at our cover story in October ("Decoding Web Services," Oct. 1, 2001) for some clarity.

Sun's Web services are only one segment of the company's plan to get out of its slump. It's also banking on new storage systems, Linux, and other product lines, which senior editor Antone Gonsalves outlines in "A New Wave Nears: Sun Also Rises".

As for Microsoft, the company might have an edge right now, but its position is far from secure. It has the products and the strategy (and is staking its future on the .Net initiative) but, as senior writer Aaron Ricadela notes in "A New Wave Nears: Microsoft's Web Services", if the tools aren't as easy-to-use as the last version, IBM, Sun, and others might pop into the lead.

What's your plan for Web services?

Stephanie Stahl

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