Gather around the campfire and let me tell you a story about IBM. When I worked at Microsoft, we had a competitive intelligence/environmental scanning unit which tracked all sorts of topics, including (obviously) our competitors. I recall that at one point our competitive intelligence on Oracle was seven MONTHS old. Goes to show how seriously we viewed Oracle! OTOH, our G2 on IBM was updated a few times each WEEK!! Shifting gears to my Oracle days, there was one firm we feared the most. No, NOT SAP (don't make me laugh). Yep, you guessed it: IBM.
So why all the fuss about IBM in this posting about Web services? Reason: Because of all the fuss IBM is making about Web services. (See http://tinyurl.com/37vnt
.) "IBM says the worldwide market for consulting projects related to Web services and standards-based application integration--known as service-oriented architectures--is about $15 billion this year and could total $200 billion between now and 2008. The company says it has trained 35,000 consultants in skills related to Web services." Even if the figure of 35,000 is off by a factor of 10, I'd still be impressed by IBM's commitment.
Gartner and IDC have also made some observations about the Web services market that seem to validate IBM's actions. Gartner (which felt compelled to create its own acronym, "SOBA" -- Service-Oriented Business Applications) predicts that SOBAs will emerge as "the mainstream business application architecture" by 2007, with big wins especially in the supply chain space. (See http://tinyurl.com/2xx98
.) IDC ( http://tinyurl.com/2mqhg
) observed that the alphabet soup of Web services is not the end all, be all. "The attention does not revolve solely around Web services anymore. Instead, more eyes are turning to toward strategic and long-term decisions around adopting standards-based services-oriented architectures (SOAs)." To this I say, "Amen."
Bottom line: As Web services adoption heats up, China's SI's need to get up to speed and learn to play the SOA game. It is important to note that SOAs are not just the logical extension of Web services protocols, but are key to many apps. For China's SIs, I'd look carefully at he relationship between SOAs and content management ... and content management (CM) and portals ... and CM and portals and knowledge management (KM).