Web services have begun to infiltrate enterprise IT projects, and even cautious companies will need to begin Web services pilot programs in 2003, according to Gartner, Inc.

"As companies begin the early implementation of Web services, the versatility of the technology is becoming increasingly clear," said Whit Andrews, research director for Gartner. "Web services is fulfilling its potential as a low-risk, high-utility data integration catalyst, but it is also emerging in unusual, visionary projects."

Over the past year, Gartner has monitored companies implementing Web services projects in order to examine the challenges and lessons learned from the early adoption of Web services. One of the main challenges experienced by the companies was deciding which projects should be assigned to Web services.

"Few enterprises should base a costly, strategic overhaul of mission-critical applications for 2004 or earlier on Web services," Andrews said. "However, companies whose IT staffs intend to embrace robust new programming models should begin to experiment with Web services now, developing pilots for deployment no later than 2003."

One major trend Gartner has recognized through monitoring the companies is that enterprises on the whole are not engaging in projects that require substantial security. Most companies are engaging in interactions that are unattractive for miscreants, or simply layering on basic security capabilities.

Another trend is that many companies are deploying Web services in projects with low developer headcounts. Gartner recommends that projects not exceed eight developers, except when a company is unusually committed to Web services or to the development of appropriate management methodologies. Most enterprises have used even fewer than eight developers.

"Typical internal project teams have been closer to three developers and external development has generally been conducted in such a way that the load for enterprises is distributed to teams of similar size, for instance, two internal and one external developer," Andrews said.

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