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Web services showing EAI the door

Developers are taking a liking to Web services as a replacement for enterprise application integration, according to the results of a recent Evans Data Corp. survey.

EAI may be on the way O-U-T.

A recent Evans Data Corp. survey of more than 400 developers involved in Web services projects indicates that more enterprises are turning to Web services as a replacement for enterprise application integration.

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Thirty-eight percent of the respondents, most of whom work in North America, said Web services would eliminate the need for costly systems integrators who write interfaces to legacy applications. Only 10% said Web services did not diminish the need for EAI, said analyst Joe McKendrick.

"EAI is used when companies want to move applications off the mainframe, for example, to more open platforms. It's always an expensive process," McKendrick said. "Web services hold promise if applications are standardized and they can readily talk to each other without an interface."

McKendrick cautioned, however, that while awareness is growing, especially in area of standards like XML, WSDL and UDDI, there's still a significant learning curve out there for enterprise developers and managers.

"More folks are familiar with XML, and the majority is familiar with SOAP. But beyond that, there's not a lot of hands-on knowledge," McKendrick said. "People are not working with [a majority of] standards in a hands-on basis. There's a lot of learning going on out there."

Developers also told Evans Data that business process management, data management and e-commerce applications are three primary landing areas for Web services today.

More than 50% are building Web services that fit into some sort of business process, or are using them to move and access data from multiple sources via portals, McKendrick said.

"What that tells me is there is a lot of effort going on to tie in Web services with business," McKendrick said. "The ability to reuse components is the main benefit of a development shop, and more emphasis is put on being able to serve the business as well."

At the other end of the spectrum, 31% said they were exposing Web services to partners, suppliers and customers as part of e-commerce applications, or with partners or suppliers. Most Web services projects, however, are still in the development stage, with 49% either building, piloting or prototyping a Web service. Eighteen percent said they had already deployed Web services projects.

Developers are contending with roadblocks, namely security and the ability to interface with a legacy application, up to 20% of respondents from 8% in a similar survey a year ago.

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