ends all at once."

The state essentially is building a completely new architecture from the ground up, Tiedemann said -- an architecture that stresses interoperability.

Sorensen said there was a lot of hype surrounding Web services. "To some degree, there is still a lot of hype," he said. "But at this point, it does the job. As long as the different vendors don't start changing the protocols so they're not compatible with each other, it has a chance of surviving. Yes, there are some problems with Web services -- guarantee of delivery and security -- and it's still evolving, but for us, it works very well."

Hurdles to Jump

Though Web services clearly have begun demonstrating their value, use of Web services remains in its early phases. Perhaps the newness of the technologies has people hesitant, but there are other reasons too.

Choosing among the flavors of Web services sold by a variety of vendors has caused some difficulties for governments, said Hillsborough County's Kannberg, while another issue hits a bit closer to home.

"If you have an organization that's not doing anything, it's because they're entrenched internally or there's another reason they can't get into it. Maybe their management is afraid of Web services," he said. "The organizations with management issues become entrenched, and they don't want to change. They pooh-pooh Web services and say things like, 'It's not standardized. We don't know what the platform is going to be.' Or they have an entrenched legacy development group. I see that over and over again. They don't want to give it up, because Web services move faster than developers can develop."

Kannberg said he spoke to one West Coast agency spending thousands of hours to teach its developers Java -- because management said training must happen before Web services can be tied to the agency's public Web site -- despite the existence of rapid development tools that automatically write Java code.

"Web services comes along and it's changing all the rules," he said. "The good organizations move on it. Jump in feet first. You're going to get wet. You're going to make mistakes. It's going to be rough. You're going to hate it. And then it will become good. It was tough, and we got through it. The payoff has been astronomical, and it has been worth every minute of stress."

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor