Monthly Archives: October 2005

SOA Institute Roundtable

The recent Webcast “roundtable” recorded a couple of weeks ago for the new SOA Institute has been posted as a free (i.e. no registration required) link till January 18.
If you want to just listen to my portion, it starts at about minute 26 and goes for about ten minutes.

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Cream Reunion in New York

It was a great show. Based on the CD at least I dont think it was much different from the London shows. They may have done a bit more improvisation, but not much more. They just kept to their set list, what they had rehearsed, and gave pretty much the same show every night, with the usual variations youd expect in the solos, intensity, delivery of the songs, etc. depending on how each performer feels on the particular night.
Judging from the photos in the MSG concert program of the Royal Albert performances the stage looked very similar, so if you have the DVD (I don’t yet) you probably have a good idea what the show looked like.
They had a small, simple stage with a few white and colored spotlights and a background screen that continuously flashed psychedelic colors. Very simple, I suppose similar to what it must have looked like in the 60s, except for the two large video screens hanging from the ceiling.
They came onstage without announcement, just the house lights dimming, and of course the place erupted. Id received an email a few days ahead of time from Ticketmaster with the groundrules and stating that Cream would come onstage about 8:30 and play till about 10:30, and that was correct within about 5 minutes.
The first few songs were ok, but nothing special. They really hit their stride on N.S.U. and then they were flying. Jack and Ginger kind of got it going first, a great solo jam, and then Jack kind of walked over toward Eric, with Ginger also looking in his direction, drumming madly all the time, as if to ask whether Eric was also going get it going? Ginger and Jack were playing this unbelievable rhythm jam and it was as if they were saying to Eric hey if we can do this then you should be doing something special too. So he did, you could hear him making the effort to ratchet it up a notch, and from there they never looked back.
It was like they lifted us all up into this kind of mental warp where you don’t notice the passing time till it’s almost over. They got each other going and that got us all going. I remember concerts like that, but have not been to one for a long time.
I was telling my brother the story of how I knew to go on the website right away and get tickets, how I met this guy Brett in Melbourne when I was down there literally the week before starting Iona. I was teaching a class on Windows DNA and one of the guys in the class invited a friend of his, Brett, from New Zealand, who just happened to be over at the same time, to join us for dinner.
At one point in the evening the discussion turned to the inevitable question of who is the best rock guitarist, and Brett made the case for Clapton, based on his live improvisational work with Cream. I had seen Hendrix and Gregg Allman and I did not really give in at the time, especially having Clapton’s later solo work in mind.
Brett and I have stayed in touch, exchanging the occasional email, sometimes (or often I guess) about music, and he was watching the Web sites and sent me an email when he saw the news. So I was ready the morning of Sept. 12 and got the order in.
We were in the risers at the end of the floor farthest away from the stage. The seats on the floor took up about two thirds of the hockey rink size floor, with folding seats on risers for the rest, and the floor seats were twice as expensive. We were about halfway up the section with the risers, with a head on view of the stage, slightly to the left of center.
The overall highlight was probably Badge, with Stormy Monday also a standout because of the sheer musicality in the guitar work.
One thing different between this edition of Cream and the 1966-1968 version of the band, at least judging from the live recordings and bootlegs (I was not lucky enough to see them then) was that other songs tended to be highlights bask then, like Spoonful and Crossroads. Spoonful was not remarkable at all this time, although of course very well sung and played – no complaints, just not a highlight. And while the new arrangement of Crossroads is excellent and fresh, it was also not the standout of the concert like it used to be.
They did not try to be the old Cream, which was great. Of course they would have had a hard time doing that anyway 37 years later. They were just the Cream they are now, which is three still great muscians playing in a kind of equal partner format, performing great songs, and jamming.
After all, you go to a concert to hear great songs performed well – and they wrote and covered a lot of great songs. And if you can get some top flight muscians to play some good solos and jam in the bargain, well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Someone I was talking with the day after raised the inevitable age question and the burnout issue – didn’t Ginger Baker burn out from drug abuse long ago? Aren’t these guys too old to play that kind of music? No, they were great. They are in their 60s but they played and sang great. Nobody asks this about B.B. King or Buddy Guy or John Lee Hooker when he was still around, so why should we ask it about these old white guys? Maybe this is another precedent – aside from inventing the power trio, inventing how you play bass, drums, and guitar in a blues rock band, inventing some great songs – they have now firmly set the precedent that old white guys can still play.
Ginger Bakers solo on Toad was unbelievable. He kept it going a bit longer than the version on the CD, and added a few more twists. He nailed it, and the place went wild. Afterward he literally limped off stage.
Overall he was like a machine. A drum box could not have been more precise. He didn’t miss a beat the whole concert. My brother, who learned to play the drums by imitating Ginger Baker, kept saying nobody had ever played like that. He invented the style. Is it too much to say Ginger Baker invented modern rock ‘n’ roll rhythm? I don’t think so. I think we also know for sure who the greatest drummer is.
Jack Bruce had the most energy. His voice was strong and clear the whole evening and he kept his bass and harmonica playing inventive, strong, and just fitting into every song exactly the right way. The large screen video screens hanging from the ceiling, often focused in on his fingerwork, which was great because sometimes it is hard to believe the sound is coming from a bass guitar, or that you could even play a bass guitar the way he does.
And of course what more can you say about Eric Clapton. I guess this was the known quantity going in since Eric has been the one member of the band to have great, consistent fame during the past 30 years, and you can often hear his songs on the radio. But this was the group that made him famous, and you could see why. You could almost have called him the weak link in fact – at least until he got going.
At the end, during the encore, Bruce and Clapton stood facing each other from either end of the drum kit, making a tight group. They played that way for a few minutes, just all soloing together, as if saying goodbye, and then Eric nodded his head and they brought things to a close.
Looking back I cannot say for sure that it really seemed like they were playing together for the final time. It just felt more like another concert date. Of course they are true professionals, so you might reasonably expect nothing less. But I would not be too surprised to hear about a session in Tokyo later this year or early next year.
Before going in I was a bit worried I had over hyped myself, listening to the London CDs and the BBC CD and working myself up to such a state of anticipation that would easily lead to disappointment. And the way they started out, the first four slow songs, while of course great, were not up to that level.
After Bruce and Baker kicked Clapton into gear, though, they were flying and didn’t stop. I remember looking at my watch thinking it was about halfway through the show and it was already 10 past ten, much to close to the end already.
And I would definitely say that Jack and Ginger knew how to get the best out of Eric Clapton, and that they also knew very well what he was capable of. They were not going to settle for anything less. Because it just makes for great music. And Brett, I have to admit it is very hard now to argue against you.

Contract First Development

It’s great to see good tutorial articles like this about the benefits of contract-first service development. It does seem like a bit more effort in the beginning, and it requires familiarity with XML Schema, but these investments in time and effort will reap huge benefits over time.

Thinking in Services

Sometimes you go for weeks without a speaking engagement, and then you end up with two different ones in the space of two hours. I guess this is similar to the principle that store customers come in bunches, birds travel in flocks, or that people mob city streets following professional sports championships…
Anyway yesterday in San Diego I got up early to record from my hotel room a Webcast roundtable for the new SOA Institute along with John Crupi of Sun, Theo Beack of Software AG, and Paul Patrick of BEA. About 15 minutes later I was in the hotel’s conference center giving the opening presentation for the Delphi Summit’s SOA focus day.
I need to attribute “thinking in services” to JP Morgenthal, the roundtable moderator, who mentioned it in a question during the Q&A part of the Webcast. I had never heard it before and do not know whether or not JP invented it. I do know that I immediately picked it up and used it again during the Delphi presentation. And then Frank Martinez, who followed me onto that particular stage yesterday morning, also picked it up…
The significance of the phrase, thinking in services, is worth highlighting. The move toward service orientation and SOA probably is more about a change in thinking than any specific change in technology. Although recent advances in technology (i.e. XML and Web services) make it easier than before to implement an SOA, the design of the SOA is far more important than the implementation.
If done correctly, the definition of an IT service will long outlive any particular technology used to implement it. The service is what’s important to the business, not the technology behind it.
It is important not to confuse technology with services, since for example a service is not an object although it can be implemented using one. Or it can be implemented using a procedure, script, HTTP request, etc. The design must be independent of its execution environment in order to realize the true benefits of services and SOA – and this definitely can mean some different thinking.
A show of hands at the Delphi Summit indicated a broad range among the audience membership in terms of knowledge in SOA, with some indicating a fair bit of expertise and others acknowledging little to none.
The same held true at an informal SOA birds of feather session I crashed at Oopsla the night before. There I also had the good fortune to meet and talk afterwards with Olaf Zimmerman, a practitioner for IBM services whose book on Web Services perspectives recently came out. He was telling the story of the Sparkasse Bank’s SOA project in Germany, the same one that was highlighted at the Deutsche Post SOA Days conference last month.
Few SOA deployments reach the scale of that one, the project at Deutsche Post, the one at Credit Suisse, or at some of our telecom customers who ask not to be referenced, but it is mainly through the experiences of these pioneers, and the documentation of the stories, that the lessons will be learned and the industry’s thinking changes will be put into practice.
It is important to learn about services and SOA in the abstract therefore, and start thinking about the design of services long before thinking about the code you’ll use to implement them with. We do not see enough about this in the information provided by vendors since it focuses on produts and on the battle to “capture the developers” in Java or Microsoft tools. Development tools and products are not the place to start your thinking.
Another good book is Enterprise SOA, which contains a lot of good information from SOA projects based on CORBA.
One final note on the herd phenomenon – both presentations were in connection with primarily business process management (BPM) initiatives now adding focus on SOA. Does this mean we have reached critical mass?

SOA Summit in San Deigo

So tomorrow I will have the chance again to get into the big silver tube at the airport by the Atlantic and get out of it at an airport by the Pacific. Sometimes I wonder what happens in between…
Thursday I get to kick off the second day of the Delphi SOA Summit in San Diego.
Many of the usual cast of characters will be there, Frank Martinez, Annrai O’Toole, Dan Foody.
It has started to get colder here in good old New England although the trees aren’t very colorful this year. The apples are good though, especially my favorite the Macoun, but already it will be nice to escape to a warmer clime for a couple of days.
Hopefully this will go well, piggybacked on the tail end of a BPM summit. My topic is on using legacy assets in an SOA. Gartner research indicates that 75% or more of services in an SOA will come from existing applications.

Cream Reunion Part 2

I was lucky enough to score a couple of tickets for the upcoming Cream reunion at Madison Square Garden. Ticketmaster sent email today saying that my tickets were printed and sent out.
I’m going with my brother Tor, who started out as a drummer and remembers learning his first solo listening to Ginger on Blind Faith.
I am already “doing my homework” listening to the live side of Wheels of Fire, the bootlegs, and the BBC CD. This last one includes the “goovy” announcer banter that really drives home how long it has been since their break up. I would recommend this CD desipte the fact it’s mono and the sound quality isn’t the best, since the performances are live and energetic, and you can really hear how Eric, Jack, and Ginger all contribute.
Rumors of the reunion have happily proven true. And now it’s coming to New York, a four hour drive away…
These old sides, especially the live performances, are just incredible. Imagine any band with the three top musicians on their respective instruments and you still only have half the impression. Each of these guys could (and in fact did) go on to lead their own bands. These guys are not only talented but also creative musically. I can’t wait!
ps Thanks Brett for letting me know about this – sorry you aren’t able to join us.

Miracle on 34th Street

I was talking with someone about this yesterday. A real opportunity exists out there to become the Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street. You know, the guy who recommends going to the competitor’s store to find the item on the child’s wishlist if Macy’s doesn’t have it?
Who is going to step up to that role for SOA? By definition an SOA is a style of design or architectural blueprint, not a technology. Therefore an SOA cannot be dependent upon any particular technology implementation, let alone a single vendor’s product.
Yet we still hear from SOA vendors statements like: “The first question to answer when thinking about an SOA is which vendor to select.” This is of course completely backwards. The first thing to think about is the design and only later about its implementation.
Furthermore, if I am a vendor working with customers on mapping technology to SOA designs, I almost certainly know that any single vendor cannot supply every bit of technology for every implementation requirement. Or that even if it can, the vendor does not always have the best product in its class, or the best fit for each and every requirement.
What we need isn’t more self-serving statements that customers have every right to distrust. What we need are honest assessments of vendor capabilities, and the ability to reference, without prejudice, the products of other vendors when they are a better fit than your own.
And I’d like this all in time for Christmas, please 😉