Web services start to grow up

Service Grids: The Missing Link in Web Services is one of a series of working papers by John Hagel and John Seely Brown. As expected, the initial excitement about Web services has given way to disappointment. The IT landscape hasn’t changed overnight, nor have Web services brought a World Series victory to the long-suffering fans in Boston. Meanwhile, the inevitable spread of Web services continues.

Hagel and Brown point out a key issue — the need for management and monitoring infrastructure to make Web services function in real enterprise environments. (As Dave frequently points out, there’s much more to Web services than what the bigcos are doing, but enterprise adoption is an important piece of the story.) Where a year ago all the Web services companies were building development tools and basic SOAP wrappers, now the emphasis has shifted to ensuring performance, reliability, security, and cross-organizational integration. This is nuts-and-bolts stuff, for the most part. But it’s essential, I believe, for creating the software architecture of the next 20 years.

That architecture will be something more than Web services, as commonly understood. It will be distributed infrastructure — at least, that’s what I’m calling it for the panel at Supernova! The good ideas emerging around P2P, grid computing, and the semantic Web will all play a role.