The Internet standards-based approach to software distribution-called Web Services-promises to greatly simplify IT integration of legacy applications. Described as a "Leggo" approach for assembling different "services" from back-office systems-such as rating a policy and submitting a claim-Web services are based on open standards, including XML (extensible markup language), SOAP (simple object access protocol), WSDL (Web services description language) and UDDI (universal description, discovery and integration). As a result, customized integration is greatly reduced.But a battle is brewing between Web services platform vendors vying for market share-in particular, between IBM Corp.'s WebSphere-which is based on the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) platform-and Microsoft Corp.'s .NET. The classic capitalistic struggle between these two camps may make Web services more complicated than promised.
"Most component models (of application integration) require everybody to subscribe to the same 'religion,'" says Dale Vecchio, research director, application development, at Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn. "And theoretically, Web services don't."
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