Burton Group Adds Web-Services Group - InformationWeek
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Burton Group Adds Web-Services Group

Application Platform Strategies, a new business unit of the Burton Group, will focus on Web services.

Web services are being elevated as a cure-all for companies' technology infrastructures. And while they have potential for simplifying some system interactions, they are not a panacea, says the director of a new application-oriented analyst research group.

"If implemented correctly, Web services can lead to tremendous savings--in both time and money" over conventional enterprise application integration, says Anne Manes, director of Application Platform Strategies, a new business unit of the Burton Group that was announced at its Catalyst Conference Tuesday in San Francisco. "If implemented badly, they will cost both time and money." The promise of Web services is that a company may substitute industry-standard protocols for proprietary ones to establish connections between different systems. Such a move eliminates the need for one system to know the exact nature of its counterpart in a different location, as required when using IBM MQ Series and other middleware. "No more vendor lock-in," says Manes, a former analyst at Patricia Seybold Group. She notes that the "reference architecture," or application development environment that the Burton Group recommends to a client, will vary, based on what's already present in a client's site. But small businesses' needs are very different from large ones, she adds. "Most small businesses base themselves on Microsoft's product line," while larger enterprises have a mix of IBM mainframes, Unix, and Java, along with Windows and the systems they have built themselves. As a result, different companies will work with different technology sets to get the applications and Web services that they need. In the future, developing applications to use Web services will mean giving management extensions to those apps so that they can yield information on their operations. Such extensions would supply data to Web-services management systems from companies such as Actional, Confluent, Flamenco Networks, Service Integrity, Swingtide, and Talking Blocks. In addition, management extensions will give "visibility" into the message flow and transactions that are taking place, she says. Manes is the former chief technology officer of Systinet Corp., which produces C++ and Java run-time environments for Web services. The company received $21 million in venture capital funding in March 2002, she says. Manes left Systinet to write "Web Services: A Manager's Guide," published in June by Addison Wesley. The book has a business manager's perspective instead of a programmer's, she says.

Manes has been a participant in standards development at the Web services directory group UDDI.org (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration); the XML standards group, Oasis; WS-I, the Web Services Interoperability vendor consortium; and Sun Microsystems' Java Community Process.

The Application Platform Strategies unit is being added to the Burton Group's two existing units: Directory and Security Strategies, and Network and Telecom Strategies. Jamie Lewis, CEO of the Burton Group, notes that the line between networks, directories, and applications is blurring as they become more interdependent. "The networking people are increasingly in the application layer, doing voice over IP" and other applications, he notes. So research on applications is not necessarily isolated from the Burton Group's findings on networks and directories, he says.

The new unit won't attempt to deal with issues related to packaged applications, such as PeopleSoft's or SAP's, Lewis says.

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