Advice for jumping into Java Web Services?

So I’ve landed on a new project. We’ve been asked to port a well-studied
scientific algorithm into a Web Service, hoping to link the calculated
results into a networked client for visualization (likely Google Earth).

Now, porting the algorithm (from MATLAB) should be relatively
straightforward. What I’m unsure about is where to start building the Web
Service! I’ve previously just used ColdFusion for anything that needed to serve a
data feed (like sending RSS or feeding a Flash or Flex app), but the requirements from the
contracting agency really point to something more portable like Java, Python or Ruby. Since I’m most familiar with Java, and there have been a few articles here and there on Java Web Services, that seemed to be a likely path.

I’ve read about SOAP, REST, and XML-RPC, and the Apache Axis library. Then I found Axis2, and heard about CXF from a colleague. Can anyone
offer any advice as to where to start? Does anyone even build Web Services by hand anymore?

Oh, and Barry… I know I still owe you those 8 things you asked about.