While two thirds of European and US chief information officers (CIOs) are investing in web services, they are almost evenly split between Microsoft's .Net and Sun Microsystems' Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE).
According to a survey of 100 CIOs by Merrill Lynch analysts, independent software makers are more likely to favour J2EE's ability to run on any technology, even though it is written only in Java.
But some may favour .Net because programs can be developed in multiple languages, although they run only on Microsoft technology.
The survey found that, while one third use enterprise application integration software and two thirds have application servers, the CIOs are split between J2EE and .Net for their web foundation.
When asked if their company is more likely to commit to J2EE or .Net as the web services foundation, 26 per cent said J2EE, 22 per cent committed to .Net while 30 per cent said neither.
Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich explained that, although web services may be more evolutionary than revolutionary as Sun argues, "they are still a big deal".
Examples include customer interfaces, internal portals, applications service provider hosting and e-procurement.
The CIOs were equally split between IBM, BEA Systems and others, including Microsoft, Oracle and Sun. The latest research indicates that IBM and BEA each have 34 per cent of a $2.2bn J2EE application server market.
In the customer relationship management software market, about 25 per cent of those surveyed said they were working on such projects, but only 55 per cent of those were satisfied with the results.
The study also found that some users found the software too pricey and that integrating legacy systems was difficult.
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