Monthly Archives: March 2007

Future of Radio?

Friday I had the pleasure of appearing on My Technology Lawyer Radio.
I’m not sure it’s the future of radio, as Scott suggested after we were done – a kind of hybrid between AM talk radio and Podcasting, with commercials. But one thing’s for sure, I had a great time doing it. And even if I do say so myself, I think it came out pretty good.
One of the best things was chatting with Scott during the commercial breaks and afterward. I certainly believe that the informal style he’s using is really the future of communication, whether in blogs (like this) or on the radio.
You can find the replay here – look for 3/16 and when it starts move the ball about halfway down the slider (I was in the third half of the show, to quote Tom and Ray).
(Maybe Jon Udell can tell me how to create a link to the middle of the stream. He did it before with a SYS-CON TV appearance.)
Actually I’m listening to the reply while I’m typing this. Good informal discussion about blogging, IONA, distributed computing, distributed SOA, and open source. Maybe it came out good because it was fun doing it, and because of Scott’s relaxed approach.
In fact as an icebreaker before we got started he asked my opinion of several famous older ladies, would I want to go out on a date with one of them if I could, that sort of thing. Well, I guess several have been in the news lately, so a lot of guys must be thinking about this. I said Helen Mirren, and but Scott said for him it’s Nancy Pelosi, and only Nancy Pelosi.
Suffice it to say that the ice was broken by laughter 😉
Anyway, I hope you get a chance to listen to the show, and check out some of Scott’s other shows. If you do, please let me know what you think!

Celtix progress – new site, 1.1 release

Yesterday Celtix got its own Web site, which is the result of a lot of hard work, and a new release to download with some new features and improvements.
Now Celtix and the open source business has its own home on the Web, separate from the corporate site.
It’s not so easy to run an open source business as a startup within an established company, so having a separate home on the Web is a significant step.
The benefit of offering open source from an established company is the ability to offer the same level of support we provide for our commercial products.
The challenge is to make the right decisions for the open source business, and separating the Website to me is an example of doing that. The open source business needs to follow open source business models, not the business model of the commercial business, and an open source Website often differs from a commercial products website.

Ajax World presentation on OSGi

During the past week or so I’ve been doing lots of intersting stuff that I’ve been trying to find time to blog about, including Eclipse/OSGi Con, the Open Source Think Tank, and Microsoft MVP Summit.
And now I’ve found that I have yet another interesting thing to do – speak about OSGi and Eclipse at Ajax World next Monday.
(I am happy to help out but I just wish Jeremy would use that new photo I sent 😉

Workshop summary and observations (2)

To continue the summary and observations on the Web of Services Workshop last week…
Not a lot of blogging afterward yet, but here’s an entry from Pete and one from Jonathan.
It was clear that both the Web (REST) and Web services (WS-*) are being successfully used in production applications today.
The usage patterns seem to substantiate my view that Web services are more often used in enterprise IT environments that predate the Web. Most of the users who attended the workshop – and they tended to represent large, established organizations – said that they are using Web services in what I’d call mission-critical or operational applications.
It was also very clear that many of the same organizations are successfully using Web technologies in mission critical/operational applications.
Some of us – myself included – took the position that both technologies can and should co-exist, and that it would be good if the W3C could help define how this could and should happen.
I thought Noah’s paper was really great, and probably the best presentation as well. (But of course my reaction was perhaps predisposed because of my thinking that a hybrid or combined solution is what the industry needs.)
Although he is employed by IBM, Noah attended the workshop to represent the W3C’s Technical Architecture Group (TAG).
He said the TAG’s view is that people are getting value out of both Web and Web services technologies. His presentation and paper include some very good pros and cons points, and describes what I thought was a great approach to using the two in combination.
One unfortunate part is that what Noah presented relies to a large extent on parts of the specifications that aren’t well implemented, or are potentially misusable.
The SOAP 1.2 GET feature, WSDL 2.0, and WS-Addressing endpoint reference mechanisms are integral to Noah’s recommendation, but not yet widely implemented (with the exception of WS-Addressing EPRs, but this is a variation on the issue that I’ll explain later).
This is directly related to part of the discussion during the Workshop, about how the issues the Web community has with Web services relate more to how the specifications have been implemented (or not implemented, as the case may be) than with the specifications themselves.
Achieving an impact in this area may be somewhat challenging, but this may be one of the things to evaluate in the context of going forward.
The WS-A EPR issue relates to the fact that as specified, they resemble cookies inasmuch as they are intended to carry opaque data. The data in EPRs may contain identifiers, but if they do they risk “breaking” the Web in that they could be using a format other than a URI to identify an endpoint.
More later…

Web of Services Workshop Summary

It’s not often I get to go to something like this, never mind the priviledge of co-chairing it.
I think we had a really great discussion, and I certainly learned a lot. From what others said, I think that was a pretty general impression. And I think everyone really did maintain a spirit of cooperation and pitched in.
We had a great mix of users, WS-* folks, and REST folks, with a couple of industry analysts thrown in, and experts on a variety of topics.
I think in the end we came up with a few good ideas for improving software standards for the enterprise, and a some good suggestions for how to better join the Web services (WS-*) and Web (REST) communities.
Of course, we have yet to see what will really happen. But for the past two days we had everyone into the same room, and I would say each started to acknowledge the other’s viewpoints. I even heard Mark Baker say he thought one of the WS-* companies was making pretty good progress 😉
There’s a lot to say, more than I can get to today. There will also be a format report, including any actionable items and recommendations. (Also the program now has all the presentations, in case you want to take a look
I’ll start recording a few interesting thoughts, in no particular order. I’ve also got a few photos that I’ll upload.
The innovator’s dilemma
Also known as why it’s difficult to recognize the effects of a disruptive innovation such as the Web.
I remember in the early days, when we’d talk with customers about SOAP, they’d say “well, that’s fine, but I can’t use it until it has better security,” or reliable delivery, or transactions, etc.
We had an example during the workshop, when one of the users said something like “I need a lot more capability in Web services before I can use it to replace WebSphere MQ.”
I just think that’s the wrong way to think about it, but it’s very natural. Customers rely on these kinds of “enterprisey” features every day, and when thinking about adopting new technology they look for feature compatibility.
But I think the question isn’t really “do Web services features offer equivalence with MQ” but “can I meet my application requirements using Web services”?
Yet we keep thinking about Web services in terms of the past, an evolution of the current solution, rather than as a completely new approach, an adaptation of middleware concepts to Web technologies.
The comment also was made a few times that it isn’t the specs as much as how they’ve been implemented that creates the difficulties for Web developers, and the complexities for which WS-* gets criticized.
Start with the Web
If Web based businesses such as Yahoo, eBay, Google, and can handle hundreds of millions of users and thousands of messages a second, petabytes of data, etc. and with good response time in a browser — you know it can be done.
So for anything new, consider using Web based technologies, or at least consider following the architectural principles of the Web in your design.
(Unless, of course, your business has absolutely nothing to do with the Web, and will never have to scale or change very much. There are many reasons not to consider using Web technologies. But I am thinking about the general case of a large, distributed enterprise application.)
Now however if you have a bunch of old systems – or if your IT environment was created before the Web, and (like many) is a mess of heterogenous stuff, you are going to also need to tackle the problem or rationalizing or standardizing that. Here an SOA using Web services is a great approach, and one that is growing in adoption.
If you want to join up your old stuff to the new stuff, Web services seem like the way to go.
Yahoo was among the companies represented and they mentioned that they still like to create their own infrastructure – these “mega sites” use quite a bit of custom code – because they can’t really buy what they need from the vendors.
Not too long ago this was the case more generally. I remember a lot of financial services organizations inventing their own middleware and TP monitors, because their requirements were farther advanced than the features of generalized products. So this seems cyclical, a pattern that substantiates the disruptive concept.
This was the reason I proposed a hybrid solution – use the Web for new applications, and adapt (or interface) existing applications using Web services.
This was the subject of some debate, and about two or three ideas were given on how to best accomplish this.
More later…