As Web services continue to move closer to mainstream acceptance for application development, new research indicates performance concerns now exceed network security issues as a factor that's limiting adoption.A recent study by RESolution Market Research found that service-oriented architectures and Web services, supported by XML, are regarded as a key choice for application development because of ease of programming and data interchange.

However, respondents to the survey, which covers a wide range of vertical markets, say the application performance of Web services is a top concern. "Most customers are addressing this problem by adding to server infrastructure and continually tuning software applications," notes Allison Wilt, president of Los Angeles-based RESolution Market Research, which annually examines Web-services and XML-based projects implemented by Fortune 1000 companies.

Wilt explains that companies are presently addressing performance issues in a less-than-optimal fashion, "by tuning code and/or over-provisioning hardware." In addition, some of the respondents indicated they were holding back on using XML for specific applications because they either anticipated a high number of transactions, and were not confident they could achieve the performance required to run the application satisfactorily.

In compiling its findings, RESolution Market Research specifically screens senior IT decision-makers with knowledge about XML applications in their businesses as well as the strategic directions of their companies.

"We found that the insurance companies involved in our study are using XML similarly to many of the other industries-initially for internal applications, with a number of them pushing these applications out to external partners and agents," Wilt says.

Reliance on mainframes

One conclusion gleaned in the research pertained to reliance on mainframe operating systems in the context of migrating to service-oriented architecture. Many companies participating in the study intend to keep running their mainframes.

"XML and SOAP (simple object access protocol) architectures were seen as complementary systems to their existing mainframes, allowing them to more easily pull data from their large databases and present the information to users in Web-based format designed for their particular need," she says.

One key finding in the research, which was commissioned by Austin, Texas-based Conformative Systems, is that Web services are being deployed in the data center for business-critical applications such as standards compliance, legacy systems integration, supply-chain, ERP and other applications.

The study also found that not only are XML-based applications becoming more common in corporate IT, there is an increasing number of production solutions and a new wave of applications ready to move out of pilot stages in this year.

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