When business people want to condemn a new technology to a geeky grave, they often say that the new thing is “a technology in search of a problem.” This suggests–quite correctly–that the best technology solves a pressing business problem.
Web services, specifically, and service-oriented architectures in general, solve a number of pressing business problems. In particular, web services allow organizations to continue operating legacy systems that work well and that, for various reasons, defy replacement or upgrade. If you can at least reach a point where the legacy system can be integrated with other applications via web services, you likely have a moderate-cost, stable, and workable means to integrate the legacy system with web-facing applications going forward.

One sign that web services have traction is that organizations are starting to worry about the performance of web services-based applications. Conformative Systems, one of several companies vying for the emerging business in XML-acceleration hardware, has published some research that suggests web services applications really are taking hold. I had a conversation last week with Mark Nagaitis, Conformative’s VP of Marketing, and he shared the following chart.

While Conformative’s research is not independent–and while we do not do quantitative research typically–the overall results of the research make an awful lot of sense. And this chart in particular rings true, based on the discussions I have had and recent consulting engagements where I have seen web services in action. People go into web services implementations with concerns about security, and they then develop concerns about performance once the applications begin to roll out.