Thanks to the good folks at ComNet, who took a chance and let us stage our first Showdown in 1995, I'll be hosting a Web Services Showdown from 12:45 to 2 p.m. Jan. 28 at the ComNet conference in Washington, D.C.One of the innovations we're proudest of at Network World is our Showdown debates. Since the mid-1990s, we've brought together the leading vendors in virtually every key technology area to argue the pros and cons of their products and strategies.Network management, frame relay, operating systems, voice over IP, switching, broadband, Linux, application service providers - you name the issue, we've staged a PowerPoint-free debate on the topic.Just about every major technology company has stepped up to participate - AT&T, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, SBC Communications, Sun and many more. We've held debates at NetWorld+Interop, Linux World, ComNet, Comdex, Voice on the Net and almost every other important conference in the IT industry. Thousands of customers have attended and learned from the robust debate.Happily, the Showdown tradition will continue in 2003.Thanks to the good folks at ComNet, who took a chance and let us stage our first Showdown in 1995, I'll be hosting a Web Services Showdown from 12:45 to 2 p.m. Jan. 28 at the\u00a0ComNet conference\u00a0in Washington, D.C.Web services\u00a0are the talk of the tech town these days. They promise to make the extended enterprise a reality - linking applications and resources across private networks and the Internet to smooth business transactions and boost productivity. But what's the reality behind the megahype surrounding Web services? What works and what doesn't? Who's supporting what standards?That's what we'll explore at the Web Services Showdown. IDC analyst and Web services expert Tony Picardi will join me in grilling four leading suppliers of Web services.Then, we'll let the vendors ask each other questions and take questions from the audience. No one will know the questions in advance, and the Q&As will be candid and unscripted.So who'll be up on stage? Tony and I are challenging BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle to send their top technology strategists to take part in the debate. The companies will have until Nov. 20 to let me know if they are up to the challenge. If one of them balks, we'll invite a competitor.Not to worry. In seven years, we've only had a couple of companies shirk from the challenge. I have no doubt that BEA, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle will jump at the chance to outline their Web services strategies.Now it's up to you to mark the date on the calendar. Join us!