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Plenty of Room for IT in Web Services

Special Report from TechMentor: Web services and .NET has many IT managers and systems administrators wondering how Web services will affect their jobs and responsibilities.

(Orlando, Florida) A lot of the early attention on Web services and Microsoft's .NET initiative has necessarily focused on developers. But many IT managers and systems administrators are curious about how Web services will affect their jobs and responsibilities.

Ace Swerling, a consultant with the Microsoft-Accenture joint services venture Avanade, predicted how things will play out for IT during a keynote at a conference for Microsoft Certified Professionals in Orlando, Fla.

The upshot: People who can keep servers and networks running will be just as necessary in a distributed Web services future, and a lot of the Web services-related projects will help reduce enterprise application integration headaches.

Swerling, who worked for three years as a senior consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services, works on large-scale implementations of Microsoft technologies at Avanade.

Ace Swerling, Avanade
Avanade consultant Ace Swerling explains the impact of Web services and .NET to attendees at MCP TechMentor.

Swerling believes Web services represent a fundamental change that will transform business, but he says some of the early buzz is overblown. One misconception: That infrastructure will disappear as software turns into services hosted out in the ether.

"The application development guys are saying the infrastructure is going to go away. And I'm saying, no, I'm going to have a job for a really long time," Swerling says.

That assessment applies to IT managers and system administrators as well as systems integrators like Swerling, he says.

Ace Swerling, Avanade
Swerling: "Not only are most of developers unqualified to [build those from scratch into their applications], but they don't want to do it."

"I think there's always going to be a need for people to run data systems. We're always going to need to make sure that they're available, that they're clustered, all of that stuff," says Swerling, adding "whether that happens in the future within companies or in an outsourced hosting environment."

IT professionals will be needed to create security and authentication infrastructures that support the Web services-based applications that developers build.

"In terms of account and authentication, we have to be able to deal with these kinds of things. Not only are most of those [developers] unqualified to [build those from scratch into their applications], but they don't want to do it," Swerling says.

In the near term, the biggest cost savings from Web services will come as a replacement for Enterprise Data Integration (EDI) projects. "The big benefit here is to reduce the enterprise application integration cost compared to EDI," Swerling says. That will happen as applications swap data and call functions through Web services industry standards such as XML and SOAP.

Companies that deploy well-designed Windows 2000 Active Directory networks should be able to redeploy administrators and staff to work on Web services-related infrastructure issues without hiring new staff, Swerling said.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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