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What's in Store for 2004

What's in Store for 2004

"What does the future hold for IT?" It's a burning question that everyone's asking, but who can answer? At XML-Journal, we went straight to the experts - the world's brightest and most prescient i-technology professionals - and asked them what they expect in the coming year for IT in general and XML in specific.

Industrys stakeholders - software vendors, developers, technology investors, and users alike - are looking forward to the year ahead with renewed vigor. The buzz is around XSL, Web services, and the service-oriented architecture. The benefits of XML are clear...and in 2004 they'll become even clearer.

Following are some of the predictions we received from industry leaders...if they are an indication of what's to come, it's going to be a great year.

Thom Robbins
Senior Technology Specialist

2004 is going to be the year of the service-oriented architecture. We have talked and even debated over the design pattern for the last several years. This will be the year that it will finally become the standard design pattern of distributed scalable systems. I believe that we will see XML as the basis for this type of architecture as we design our applications. XML will finally permeate all aspects of server-side interchange using Web services to desktop-based XML. The benefits of XML are becoming clear and will become the basic design reality that we operate in when writing applications. This is the year that CIOs and other technology influencers will see their data no longer locked into proprietary formats and will use this to exchange data across disparate systems. The technology has finally come to the point where we can integrate these applications easily and clearly demonstrate a lower cost of ownership and quicker return on investment - the missing ingredients needed to finally take the industry into the next generation.

Bill Rogers

We expect 2004 to be a landmark year for the adoption of XML content made available through Web services. More and more companies will design their Web strategies using this technology - whether it's in real estate, health care, finance, or government. XML and Web services will enhance the search, retrieval, exchange, storage, editing, publishing, management, use, and reuse of information.

In the coming year, Web services will begin to impact business results, and the way IT professionals and business users function in organizations, as the tool sets (.NET) for Web service technology are now mature. We believe the benefits of .NET will begin to be seen as IT professionals connect their companies more broadly and businesses streamline deployment time for creating applications. Additionally, the days of maintaining the same information in several applications will greatly be reduced, now that exchanging information becomes much easier.

Bob Blakley
Chief Scientist, Security and Privacy
IBM Tivoli Software

As pervasive computing and wireless networking penetrate the business IT market, partly as a consequence of an increase in telecommuting and remote working, the notion of a perimeter will become increasingly obsolete as a basis for IT and security architectures. Trusted end systems (both servers and, increasingly, clients) will supplant perimeter security solutions as this trend accelerates; this will drive demand for trusted-device standards such as TCG. The increased demand for these standards will result in their expedited convergence, the process for which has already begun.

Tim Bray
Antarctica Systems Inc.

I'm optimistic that we'll see more deals get done this year, but anyone who loosens their belt is nuts, because the economy is still very fragile and the nineties tolerance for excess and sloppy procurement culture is just totally over.

I think that interest in user-interface alternatives is really going to get legs in 2004; the state of the art in Web UI has been frozen for almost a decade now, and that just can't go on.

Bill Weihl
Akamai Technologies, Inc.

In 2004, XML Web services standardization will mature to a point that modular business applications will be consumed as on-demand services. Maturing standards for Web services plumbing and the advent of on-demand pricing models will mean that this new generation of ISV-developed applications will be readily available for use in Internet applications deployed by enterprises. This will further expose the Internet's shortcomings as an e-business platform and drive the need for on-demand distributed computing solutions that deliver superior performance, security, and scalability.

Raymond Schiavone
President and CEO

In a survey we conducted this past summer, we learned that 69 percent of manufacturing companies expect significant to substantial improvements in reducing time to market as a result of XML-related technologies. Having taken numerous steps to streamline their manufacturing processes, this sector will now focus resources on eliminating inefficiencies to capitalize on cost and productivity improvements. Deploying XML-related technology to automate the way manufacturers capture, assemble, and publish information will be one of the primary steps this group takes - everything from managing customer information to publishing maintenance manuals will be made more efficient with XML.

David Kershaw
Professional Services Manager
Altova, Inc.

Delivering XML-enabled applications requires teams that are equally expert in multiple arenas with high impedance mismatch: domain modeling, functional programming, relational data. Pulling all together is still tough even today.

2004 will be about making XML development more agile, creative, and productive by working out design strategies which we take for granted in the object-oriented programming world. XML will begin to leverage programming best practices to structure massive XML Schemas, create unit tests for XML and XSL, and clear up tangled concerns.

But at the same time, programmers will begin to realize that XML Schema brings stronger type and domain definition to the table and that XPath brings a common and high-powered rules language to any tree structure. At that point everybody starts to win.

Benjamin Chen
Chairman & CTO

It is clear that XML has become the de facto world standard for representing data and content. We believe that XML/XSL will supplant HTML within the coming years and that all content in the future will ultimately be presented from an XML/XSL point of view. This means true reusability of data and content, hence notions of multichannel publishing, i.e., to print, Web sites, PDAs, cell phones, etc. In addition to revolutionizing the world of content, we see a massive wave of changes for the data side of the world. Enterprises have been dealing with the issues of getting to and utilizing silos of data grown about from the legacy of nonstandard means for representing data over the last three to four decades; with the advent of XML/XSL, we now have a standard lingua franca to truly begin integrating and sharing not only within, but between our enterprises.

The Internet has provided us with a universal highway to communicate across the globe. With the advent of XML/XSL we now have a common language with which to share both data and content. This will bring tremendous social and economic gains to our society, and at Snapbridge we believe that we are just beginning to see those changes taking effect.

Ed Peters
President and Chief Executive
DataDirect Technologies

The biggest story in 2004 will be ubiquity. The emergence of XML query language standards simplifies the exchange of data between relational databases and XML documents, and SQL/XML and XQuery eliminate the need for tedious hand coding or for reliance on proprietary technologies that lock customers into one vendor's approach. With XML query language standards, it is much easier to share data across any platform, making data access a part of software development that can increase speed, performance, and the quality of the application.

Dan Foody
Actional Corporation

1.  Web services security (WSS) standards will become standard functionality of any competitive Web services implementation.

2.  When purchasing applications, 2004 will be the year when "Web services support" moves from nice-to-have to must-have on customers' checklists. Vendors that lag in this support will be eliminated up front.

3.  Despite hopes to the contrary, widely adopted standards for reliable delivery over Web services will not emerge until, at best, late in 2004.

G. Ken Holman
Crane Softwrights Ltd.

Now that RELAX-NG has become ISO International Standard 19757-2 in 2003, I'm anticipating a lot of vendors will be more comfortable embracing it and making it available to users as another alternative to modeling their XML information. Being one part of the Document Schema Definition Language (DSDL) ISO 19757, it will mesh well with the many other parts in the standardization pipeline including an ISO version of Rick Jelliffe's Schematron and James Clark's Namespace Routing Language. When completed with its planned orchestration and flexibility features, the DSDL family promises to make a significant contribution to the community both as a whole and by its individual parts.

New XSL releases of XPath 2, XSLT 2, and XSL-FO 1.1 will address many areas where workarounds have been used in stylesheets for years. Convenience features and new functionality will make many stylesheets slimmer and faster. New and powerful composition features in XSL-FO will enhance the already professional looking results available to users who need to paginate and print their XML information. As evidenced by the increased interest we are seeing in XSL training around the world, more and more people are exploring and adopting stylesheet technologies for the transformation and presentation of their structured data.

Eric Newcomer
Chief Technology Officer

I think in 2004 we will begin to see the emergence of XML as a GUI replacement technology. I think we will also start to hear some rumblings about XML as a replacement for SQL as well. Just on the cost basis alone, developing GUIs and designing, developing, and administering databases represent anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of total project cost. I expect the continuing price pressure on IT to expand the interest in additional applications of XML such as using it in place of a GUI or database. Documents are a more natural way of interacting with a computer than structured data, and with the widespread adoption of Web services for interoperability between devices and servers, I expect XML to be driven also toward more applications on the devices and servers themselves.

David Litwack
Senior Vice President

Web services are increasingly being used to repurpose existing systems by creating composite, logical applications in front of physical systems. These may sometimes be SOAP/WSDL based and almost always will be XML. The result is a logical data source constructed from one or more physical systems that represent a business function as perceived by some audience. This presents to the user an application that looks like it was developed just for them - everything they need to do their job and no more than they need.

Jeff Mischkinsky
Director of Web Services Standards

On the standards front, 2003 was the year we as an industry finally began cutting through the confused clutter of Web services specifications and started to deliver on the promise of truly open and interoperable Web services. In August, the WS-I, co-founded by Oracle, published the Basic Profile 1.0, giving companies and developers a common set of guidelines and conventions for implementing interoperable Web services. With the basic profile successfully demonstrating that a large and diverse group of companies could work collaboratively together and compromise in the common interest, a number of vendors jointly began building industry consensus around developing open royalty-free standards for the rest of the Web services stack. This helped to ensure that adoption of Web services will not be hindered by concerns over proprietary technologies or submarine patents.

Following Oracle's successful efforts to revise the Java Community Process participation rules to make them more uniform and accessible and our work with the W3C's patent policy to clarify the royalty-free IPR status of the W3C's Web services specifications (such as the recently released SOAP 1.2 recommendation), we worked with other leading Web services vendors to charter a number of OASIS technical committees (TCs) based on royalty-free specifications and processes. The Web Services Reliable Messaging TC has already begun hosting proof-of-concept interoperability demonstrations, most recently at XML 2003 in Philadelphia. The Web Services Composite Application Framework TC was chartered to provide an open framework for managing context and coordinating transactions across multiple Web services; expect to see early implementations and proof-of-concept demonstrations next year.

Bill Ruh
Senior Vice President of Professional Services
Software AG, Inc.

I believe that 2004 will be the year that XML begins to make headway among mainstream users. In 2003 we saw a growing number of tools for creating schemas, managing schemas, and taking proprietary metadata out of databases and turning it into XML. These tools are important to the infrastructure practitioners.

Now we are seeing the next phase, whereby the tools being used every day in the typical office environment are starting to migrate to XML. This process will accelerate acceptance of XML among a broader audience. For example, Microsoft's newest version of Office is XML enabled and includes a forms capability. This allows a user to create a form that is XML enabled and publish that form to a central location where others, let's say co-workers in the same department, can fill out and submit the form. This new type of capability is going to empower the user.

People will discover, for example, that using XML they can pull data out of their databases and put it right into Excel. And those who don't have that infrastructure will begin calling for it, "I've seen that. Somebody told me I could do that." So we will see the demand for XML-based infrastructure start to come from the ground up - from individual users. That's what we saw in the past with the Ethernet TCP environments; that's what we began to see with the Web environments. The same thing is going to happen with XML, beginning in 2004 and gaining momentum during the next several years.

Sinisa Zimek
NetWeaver, Standards Strategy
SAP Labs, LLC.

XML and Web services will further gain momentum in 2004. A whole variety of new industry standards will emerge; standards for ensuring security, maintaining higher reliability and such for allowing easier and better orchestration of Web services. At the same time, existing standards like SAML, WS-Security, and BPEL will find broader adoption and maturity. Standard bodies like W3C and OASIS will remain in the spotlight in 2004; the role of standards integrators like WS-I will increase significantly due to best practice and guidance services they provide to vendors and implementers of Web services. On the application side, the number and functionality of Web services applications will increase significantly during the next year.

Doron Sherman
Collaxa, Inc.

Year 2004 will see a dramatic increase in the use of the BPEL (Web service orchestration) standard for automating workflow and business process management applications. Sun will gather wide support for its JBI (Java Business Integration, aka JSR 208) architecture, the Java answer to address the fragmented and proprietary business integration market. The push for JBI will further accelerate adoption of the BPEL standard by enterprise users. Deployments of Web service applications, including BPEL, will also increase use of WS-Security as an integral part of the application infrastructure.

Dan Ryan
Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development

We expect to see more organizations use Web services for integrating content and content management functionality into other enterprise applications, whether they are packaged applications or developed internally. Similarly, we are seeing a trend whereby partners develop value-added applications that integrate content management through the use of Web services. The Stellent product suite has always been built on a services-based architecture, and Web services are an elegant and cost-effective means for accessing and integrating our functionality.

Paul Lipton
Technology Strategist, Office of the CTO
Computer Associates

Web services management will make major strides in 2004 with the completion of the OASIS WSDM (Web Services Distributed Management) specification and a broader understanding in IT shops that Web services truly need management, especially in a B2B setting. As Web services move from inside the corporate firewall to higher value mission-critical Web services, expect to see Web services management solutions that are fully SOAP aware from the major management vendors like CA.

More Stories By XML News Desk

The XML-Journal News Desk monitors the world of XML and SOA /Web services to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances and business trends, as well as new products and standards.

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