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Friday, November 5, 2004

Weekly notes: services on top

Amazon offers queuing infrastructure; patent irony; salesforce be with you; Bosworth boosts services. This week's round-up brings together several straws in the wind that presage the coming triumph of services over traditional software models.

# Amazon Simple Queue Service was the surprise announcement of the week, and potentially one of the most significant of the year, even though it passed largely unremarked except by one or two bloggers. "The Simple Queue Service offers a reliable, highly scalable hosted queue for buffering messages between distributed application components," Amazon told its registered developers in an email sent on Wednesday. "SQS allows you to decouple components and make them run independently. Any component of a distributed application can store any type of data in a reliable queue at Amazon.com. Any other component or application can then later retrieve the data using queue semantics."

This is a landmark step, because it marks Amazon's first foray into infrastructure services; and it's a very knowing move, because a queue service is the single most useful component to offer in order to enable loose coupling of network-based services. Also of interest is that, as with Alexa Web Information Service, Amazon will charge for use of SQS "once it is officially released." That's a commitment that begs a lot of questions, as I noted at the time of the AWIS announcement. Even more interesting is the question of whether the charge will be accompanied by a service level agreement. I suspect not, since Amazon is expecting "to make this service available to you at a very reasonable price," which means you'll get what you pay for. The lack of an SLA is unlikely to deter developers from taking advantage of what is undoubtedly going to be a hot infrastructure offering.

# Cendant sues bookseller. Here's my take on this story. Cendant has sued a local bookseller after the storekeeper recommended some extra reading to the company's general counsel during a family shopping trip last weekend. "On seeing the books my wife and children had selected, the proprietor recommended some further titles he thought they would enjoy. In consulting his memory of other customers' previous shopping selections, he clearly infringed Cendant's patent, issued earlier this year, for a 'System and Method for Providing Recommendation of Goods or Services Based on Recorded Purchasing History,'" said the general counsel in a statement issued today. The suit recalls an action brought against a tailor in the same township several years ago by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, who alleged the apparel shop's 'on-tick' customer account system copied Amazon's recently patented 1-Click service, which records the payment preferences of regular customers. Regretfully, further discussion of this topic has been curtailed by my lawyers, who fear that I may have infringed Michael Moore's existing patent on 'A Method of Exposing Corporate Wickedness And Ridiculing Government Agencies Through Blunt Irony And Sarcasm'.

# Announcements that caught my eye were all clustered around activity surrounding salesforce.com this week. The launch of Customforce.com comprehensively nails the myth that on-demand applications can't be customized. Meanwhile, the showcasing of third-party sforce-based solutions in the On-Demand Marketplace demonstrates the variety of optional extras that can be plugged into the salesforce.com platform to extend its functionality. This a powerful demonstration of the unplug-and-play flexibility of on-demand services.

# Bosworth speaks and the world takes notice. In one of his rare blog postings this week, he singles out two reasons why on-demand services are overtaking traditional Windows-based software packages:

  • "Customers found empirically that the training and support costs for web based applications were much lower than for custom built Windows applications," and
  • "Services, in the last decade, may have evolved 600 times by now all in reaction to what they have learned directly from customer use," whereas Windows apps "are only 2 or 3 or 4 generations evolved."

In short, "Services will be the dominant model. Think of it as evolution in action."

posted by Phil Wainewright 10:40 AM (GMT) | comments | link

Assembling on-demand services to automate business, commerce, and the sharing of knowledge

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