Hedging their bets on a forecasted skyrocketing of Web services implementations, Sun Microsystems and Burntsand are getting into the market together.

At a conference Wednesday morning Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. and Burntsand Inc. discussed joint delivery of Web Services solutions. The conference focused on the first two Web services offerings: a digital identity management system called iM and an Employee Community Portal. Both of these Sun One platform-based offerings are available in Canada now.

Sun and Burntsand have a long-standing business relationship. The latter, for example, opened one of the first Canadian Sun iForce Ready Centres in 2001.

Sun is using its Sun One platform to compete with Microsoft’s .Net to allow Web-based applications to dynamically interact with one another using open standards such as XML, UDDI and SOAP.

Sun Microsystems of Canada president, Stéphane Boisvert, said research done by both his company as well as industry analysts convinced the two partners that the time was right for an entry into the market.

A survey of 200 medium and large Canadian businesses conducted in the summer of 2002 by IDC Canada bears out Boisvert’s position. The survey found that 70 per cent of the respondents saw Web services as part of their strategic planning. The study also showed that while a major worldwide uptake of Web services is not expected until about 2005, the majority of the Canadian businesses surveyed were expecting to implement Web services within the next 12 to 18 months.

IDC research also showed that while interest in Web services is growing, adoption up to now has not been high, with only five to seven per cent of those surveyed having Web services in place. That means a lot of opportunity for business, Boisvert said.

“”And the IDC research gave us an indication that if we entered now we’d have first-mover advantage,”” he said.

A gauging of interest in the solution has shown broad demand for Web services across many industries, said Burntsand president and CEO Mel Steinke.

“”However, we’ve seen the biggest immediate interest in the pharmaceutical and financial sectors,”” he said.

The forecast for the two companies’ new venture looks good, said Evans Research Corp. market analyst Michelle Warren. Web services is one of the few areas of the IT market that not only seem to be weathering the storm but are growing. The combination of Sun Microsystems’ reputation and the loyalty of its customers with the Web services savvy of Burntsand should make them a very strong player, she said.

“”We really have two very strong organizations that have come together with this initiative,”” she said. “”They will have to compete against the IBM’s of the world, but as long as they can execute their plans efficiently, which I’m sure they can they’ll be able to take on the competition.””

IDC Canada analyst Alister Sutherland agreed, saying that the alliance “”makes a lot of sense.”” He pointed to an IDC study, which showed that among what he called “”the buying public”” both companies have a very strong reputation.

To encourage enterprise buy-in, the companies announced a “”Quick Start”” program. The promotion will allow customers entry into Web services with a $10,000 to $30,000 investment.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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