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Loosely Coupled weblog

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Food for thought

Here are 15 articles from around the Web that caught my eye during the year — many of them raising points or issues that I'd like to write more about but haven't yet had time to do so. Here are the references and short extracts, as recorded in my private 'clippings' blog during the year, along with my comments at the time (in italics). I've selected them simply by searching for postings where I wrote either 'extremely', 'very useful', 'fascinating' or 'very interesting' in my comments, and present them here in rough order — best backgrounders near the top, more esoteric gems further down. Happy reading, and my very best wishes to all Loosely Coupled's readers for success and joy in 2006.

Integration's New Strategy: Adapting those systems to communicate — that is, systems integration — can take so long that entire generations of business opportunities (new products, alliances, mergers and acquisitions) can grow old while IT fiddles with the wiring. // Excellent overview of how web services and SOA change integration for the better.

Building SOA your way: when you do need to flow your XML traffic through intermediaries, SOAP and WSDL suddenly make a lot more sense. Subramaniam is a pragmatist, however. Plain XML over HTTP, sans WSDL, also plays a role in RouteOne's internal and external affairs. Because it's a no-brainer to put a servlet interface onto an internal legacy system and pull XML data through it, that strategy is used where appropriate. Some of RouteOne's external partners use the same approach, and because 'they're making money hand over fist' doing so, Subramaniam can't mandate otherwise. Instead, RouteOne normalizes inbound traffic to SOAP and WSDL in order to enable its expected future use of BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) for service orchestration. Today, partners who don't present SOAP and WSDL interfaces are not competitively disadvantaged. But the tipping point may not be far off.

// From a very interesting article by Jon Udell about how enterprises are using WS-* and simpler REST styles in real-life applications. Great material here. This is the conclusion:

... WS-JustRight means using SOAP and WSDL to strike a balance between formal contracts and agile interoperability, while laying a foundation for future use of more advanced SOA features. PGP's Brodbeck agrees that WSDL is the key enabler of reusable business transactions and processes. He also extends the definition of WS-JustRight, however, to include enterprise-enabled RSS as the key enabler of reusable content.

For many practitioners, WS-JustRight now includes aspects of WS-Security, too. For a few, it includes reliable messaging, transactions, routing, and policies related to these features. The definition will evolve over time, but the only one that really matters now is the one that's just right for you.

ESB vs Biztalk Debate Gets Heated in Barcelona: [Dave Chappell:] When I refer to what's between the endpoints, I'm not just talking about reliable and secure protocols (which are important too!) — I'm talking about mediation. // Excerpt from a very interesting blog recounting an altercation with some Microsoft guys about ESB vs EAI architecture, specifically limitations of BizTalk and Indigo vs Sonic.

Intelligent Enterprise Magazine: IT Detours On the Road to BPM: Three distinct capabilities are required to create this synergy between IT and the business: modeling, analysis and simulation. We evaluated these capabilities in products from nine vendors: BlueSpring Software, Computer Associates (CA), Fuego, Lombardi Software, Pegasystems, Savvion, Tibco, Ultimus and Oracle. Every product offered basic operational reporting and analytics, but if you want deeper business activity monitoring (BAM), even the best products required IT integration and customization work. And just two products — Fuego and Savvion — excelled in closed-loop simulation for continuous process improvement, suggesting that this software category is still under construction. // Very useful comparative review.

What the hell is Web 2.0? The great web mash-up begins.: the goal of the remainder of this post is to try to figure out all of the obvious 'jobs' that this new application services model can support. // An extremely good, lengthy, posting about the factors coming together to kindle Web 2.0 and the possible outcomes - oh and I love this quote: "As a good blog post called, 'Stealth Start-ups Suck,' compellingly argues, with web service creation, the bar is low enough to just start building out the idea, learn as you go, and test out your thesis about why your creation matters in real-time."

Software's New Menace: BPO The Indian view is corporations increasingly want "cooked food" whereas the software industry still wants to sell raw food and Weber grills to customers so they can cook at home ... In the coming BPO wave, existing offshore IT vendors and other offshore start ups are offering to take over horizontal business processes (finance and accounting, human resources), vertical processes (mortgage processing, media animation), and knowledge-based activities (analytics, market intelligence) for their customers. In doing so, they are cannibalizing the need for licensed software either in implemented or ASP mode. // Very interesting piece by Vinnie Mirchandani, software contract consultant and former Gartner analyst.

Federated folksonomy: It will be fascinating to observe language evolution in domain-specific tagsonomies. It will be even more fascinating to watch what happens when those domains begin to federate. // Very interesting post.

ESB and the Road to Indigo: An ESB provides an abstraction layer which separates the business process definition from the underlying physical messaging layer, protocol transports, and service endpoint bindings. // Lengthy posting by Dave Chappell defending the ESB concept. Very useful set of definitions, but is it ESB he's defining here or something bigger?

ProgrammableWeb: Web 2.0 API Reference: Note that you can click on the column headings to sort by Date, Category, etc. // Very useful resource. - Using Gmail as a Spam Filter: Since I have control over the MX for my domain, I was going to set all incoming mail for my various usernames (in the virtual user and alias tables) to kick over to my GMail account, and then have GMail kick it back to a new account on my mail server whose sole purpose was to receive filtered mail from GMail. By then using client-side or server-side filtering on that account, I can then reject any mail that has not come from GMail, under the assumption that it's coming from a spammer broadcasting to all accounts on my box in hopes of hitting a live account somewhere, because the only legitimate e-mail coming to this new account should have the GMail forward tag on it.

... Sadly, GMail doesn't let me do profiles like Thunderbird does, where I can select which e-mail address I'm sending 'from'.

Another GMail tip: If you need an SMTP server when you're on the road, set your client to drop mail into, and use your gmail login. It even supports SSL connections. // Some extremely useful tips for using Gmail to filter and archive mail.

Bricklin's WikiCalc: Much much more than just a mashup of wikis and spreadsheets: In WikiCalc, Bricklin has developed something that is much more than the marriage of the wiki to the spreadsheet. In WikiCalc, Bricklin has employed an architecture that demonstrably narrows the gap between the the thick and thin world's in a way that only a few more breakthroughs are required to close it altogether. There's no reason that developers of other applications can't do the same. // This looks like a very interesting app.

Envisioning RSS as a Web 2.0 platform: Building upon The Long Tail model of market demand and demand fulfillment economics, as espoused by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, micro-broadcasters will fall into three different buckets: content producers (they actually create new content), content aggregators (they stock the virtual shelves with content from a multitude of content sources) and content filters (they categorize the surplus of content available and separate the wheat from the chaff). // At last, people start to recognise the importance of a role for content filters (which is Loosely Coupled's mission). This is a very interesting article. Here's more:

... for developers embracing RSS as a platform, there is tremendous value to add in terms of flagging, aggregating and filtering the stuff that I care about and the people or sources that I respect. This is one part information management, one part markup, one part ranking and one part algorithmic search. Similarly, there is a lot of value to be realized in terms of the handling logic for autonomously organizing, archiving and deleting the stuff I don't get around to clicking on, as well as dealing with duplicates ... In thinking about how to approach RSS as a development platform one has to consider Microsoft's recent announcement that they "get" RSS and are embracing it in a big way within Longhorn/Windows Vista. Specifically, my knee jerk is that Microsoft is going to focus on getting the "message router" portion of feed management right and ensuring that hand-offs between a central feed repository and the consumers of those feeds (people and applications) occurs in a highest common denominator fashion. They will also ensure that Visual Studio makes it easy to create custom applications around such a model.

Java Business Integration: The approach underlying JBI is a bit unusual compared to other JSRs in that it uses Web services at its core. Rather than focusing on how to build Web services using Java, it promotes an architecture that's strongly based on Web services principles and approaches. // Steve Vinoski's excellent article on JBI for the IEEE Internet Computing journal.

MDA aligns with SOA, Eclipse: Service-oriented architecture promotes the idea of platform-independent business services, where the underlying technology can range from .NET to Cobol. MDA, on the other hand, prescribes a similar, platform-agnostic approach to development.

... The [BPMi/OMG] merger unifies many MDA and SOA standards under a single business processes umbrella, bringing Business Process Modeling Notation, which connects business users to SOA processes, into the OMG ... "We believe MDA is the right way to do SOA," [Compuware marketing director Mike] Burba said. "When you describe services, you describe them as business services. That is the level of abstraction that MDA uses." // Very useful article about the important relationships emerging between MDA and SOA.

Xambala - About Us: Xambala is an innovative leader in silicon solutions that will transform next generations of intellient network equipment by securing, accelerating and routing content, applications and middleware messages — XML messages, webservices and Service Oriented Architectures (SOA). The company's Semantic Processor is the first in a class of application specific processors that accelerate semantic operations in hardware to provide the optimal balance between hardwired functions for performance and programmability for evolving applications and protocols. // Very interesting notion. Could be worth a closer look.

posted by Phil Wainewright 11:46 AM (GMT) | comments | link

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