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Loosely Coupled weblog

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Commercial reality
Web services have business impact, so business people are going to get very interested in defining service level agreements, once services start getting deployed into customer-facing environments.

This is the theme of the latest Loosely Coupled feature article, Measuring services in a business context. The topic is one that I take a close interest in, so it's a fitting subject with which to resume our weekly feature articles after a brief impromptu summer break. My research suggests that early adopters go through three phases of SLA complexity:

  1. Commercial grade. If people are relying on the service to get their jobs done, then they should be able to expect certain minimum standards of performance. Most web services go into production with this base-level form of SLA.

  2. Commercially aware. When the business starts to rely on the service to engage with its customers, its performance becomes a source of competitive advantage. SLAs have to be designed to take the competitive environment into account.

  3. Marketing led. Once enough data has been collected to form a picture of how the service has impacted business performance, sales and marketing start to recognize the potential for competitive differentiation from being able to call on a range of service options and combinations. SLA design becomes a sophisticated product marketing tool that has to be able to respond quickly to changes in market trends and business needs.

We managed to find one case study, AgentWare, who has got as far as the second phase. The vast majority of companies are still in the early stages of thinking about how they're going to get to phase one. Phase three is likely to take a lot of people unawares.
posted by Phil Wainewright 4:21 AM (GMT) | comments | link

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Grid SoBig
It turns out the SoBig virus is actually a front for a malevolent new twist in grid computing — anonymous utility spamming. The virus, which spread through the world's email inboxes like wildfire last week, is "designed to load special software that can anonymize spam onto people's PCs,"according to security experts interviewed in this CNET story.

Once in place, this secret software payload can then be triggered to send out emails that give no hint of their true origin, since they can only be traced back to the machine playing innocent host to the trojan software. Security experts theorize that SoBig's author is offering this on-demand anonymity service to unscrupulous bulk emailers, thus becoming the first hacker to have successfully monetized an email virus initiative.

If the experts are right, SoBig probably also qualifies as the first profitable, mass-market, commercial application of the principles of grid computing. It cleverly exploits the loosely coupled characteristics of a highly distributed, massively redundant grid architecture. Especially impressive is the utility provisioning mechanism that supplies new reserves of raw power to the SoBig grid, instantly able to draw on the never-ending supply of imprudent users whose curiosity about the contents of a suspicious attachment will always override their caution.
posted by Phil Wainewright 7:59 AM (GMT) | comments | link

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