Since 2001, IT spending has been in lock-down mode. At a time when newer generation architectures, such as .NET and J2EE, are either being rolled out or gaining deeper enterprise acceptance, the push is on to make better use of existing computing assets.

Enter Web Services technology (or perhaps not so strange after all). Hurwitz Group research shows that Web Services adoption is moving along quicker than expected, given budgetary lockdowns. The adopters are tackling enterprise integration as a primary problem. Developers are very willing to experiment with the new stuff, and C-level decision makers are green-lighting Web Services. But this shouldn't be surprising and, in fact, demonstrates a return to basics in IT departments – not necessarily a dynamic world of Web Services flying all about the network, being presented, consumed and joined in new revenue generating ways.

In 1999 and 2000, the focus was lost. Slick and visionary technology was purchased to extend enterprise services out to the many market opportunities just at browser's reach. But just because new technology walked in the door, what was already present didn't suddenly disappear.

We spent too long pulling apart our core, existing business processes to grab Internet success at the expense of having efficient back-office fulfillment. This the original sin of technology – a promise for totally new value that comes at any price and demolishes how we previously did business? It is real work to make new technology work with the multiplicity of incumbent technology. It is even more work to roll out reliable and efficient business processes that adequately reflect the value of the technology in the first place. Finally, it requires fiscal due diligence to ensure that the "return" is in the bag.

We need better strategies and technologies to deal with this issue. Web Services is one of the technologies and around it Hurwitz Group is seeing executives starting to form up into an actual long-term strategy. How can Web Services be a catalyst?

First look at our static mixture. One of the components in the mixture is frozen budget expenditures. The other components include legacy applications and data, large packaged applications, portal technology, homegrown modern applications, all kinds of things.

The issue for Web Services is not whether or not it is the greatest technology since yesterday's greatest thing. The issue centers around the use and value of Web Services. Web Services is precisely the catalyst we need to spark intelligent spending on making our IT assets work better together. This means look at the return on investment and the return on assets that any software gives us. Web Services technology is a low-cost investment that helps to solve a key problem: integration of various computing assets. Web Services can give the confidence to truly address our IT integration challenges in a pragmatic fashion – one that delivers business results.

Use of Web Services technology gets us back on track toward spending IT dollars on solving today's problem as opposed to building tomorrow's problem. Web Services can ignite a return to business value spending for IT by keeping us focused on projects that unify application fabrics and business processes.

Excerpt from Tyler McDaniel, Director, Application Strategies, Hurwitz Group Newsletter, May 24, 2002

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