Monday, 28 December 2009

The promise of SOA - what has it brought so far?

SOA has been around for a few years now, time to see what it has brought us. Especially since SOA 2.0 seems to be an excuse to us all to forget the imperfections of SOA and hurry over to the next hype, leaving SOA behind in its own rubble

I think SOA is a good concept. IT is bad enough for the business as it is, with all its inherent diversity: one business, a few processes, and dozens or hundreds of applications supporting it. And, since CRM and ERP, we all know very well that the one-size-fits-all promise is yet another Utopia, slowing down your business rather than doing the opposite

Doing SOA the right way

Here are my 4 points:

1. Understand the diversity, and the evolutionary law: everything will always change. You might think that you achieved a lot by homogenising today's mess, but just wait 5 years and then have another look. Thou must always translate - and leaveth that to professionals. There is no one-size-fits-all

2. Diversity as in applications, but also as in languages spoken. In Europe, 2,000 years ago Greek and Latin were cool, then vulgar Latin took over, French was okay since 1600, English rules since 1900.

Architecture as a pressure cooker

Right about now I'm reading about a company that wants an enterprise-wide Service Bus "to glue it all together" (my own words) and create an agile, flexible service oriented architecture (their words)

Now, how well have they thought about the different departments, each dealing with different business pieces, consumer sub-markets, various government regulations, different timings (8/5, 12/6, 24/7) etc?

Not at all. It's all tech-talk. Here's the worst part: The ESB must support SOAP over JMS outside, and SOAP over HTTP inside. Described in WSDL. Now I know exactly what that implies, but the authors probably don't have a clue themselves.

The sudden death of EAI

After decades of more or less succesfully integrating databases and applications, there was a proven model: hub-and-spoke architecture with a canonical model

It was pretty perfect: the evolutionary as-is and to-be diversity of any IT-landscape was absorbed by an almighty interpreter-translator in the middle, who would take all the different languages and dialects and translate them to an intermediate language that would be that enterprise's business language
Just as in the European Parliament, where they call this a 'relay' language. Now, if anyone knows anything about levelling (language) boundaries, it is right there. They handle 23 different official languages

Monday, 21 December 2009

In 2010, Twitter will be the pulse of the planet

It's the end of year, a time of looking back, and ahead. A fun time to make predictions, and look back at predictions made earlier - although that usually is much less fun

I predict that everyone will have a Twitter account in 2010. Every company will also have one, and use it too. There will be Twitter boards in public places, public ones as well as private ones, some of which will be censored to a degree, much like the delay already present on US radio- and TV shows.
The private Tweet boards will also monitor Foursquare and BrightKite in order to see what the world is thinking about that particular place

Saturday, 12 December 2009

On The Acquisition Of Knowledge 2/2

In my last blog post I talked about what to do with the information you get. This will be about how to get information

There's data, and there's information
Search engines like Google search and aggregate data thereby enabling it to become information, which is invaluable, but not too easy. Googling is an art, and requires skill
Human "engines" such as Wikipedia explicitly present information in the best possible and moderated way. Wiki is an absolute fantastic source of information for everyone in the entire world (I just can't stress that enough) where even the hottest debates are held

Monday, 23 November 2009

On The Acquisition Of Knowledge 1/2

The road to the acquisition of knowledge is a well-established path: we've always been supposed to get our knowledge from other people. Parents, teachers, preachers, masters, gurus, and the like, they are the intended intermediaries for us

Before the invention of writing information was handed down through people, from one to the other. The one possessing the information determined who would receive it, and who wouldn't. As such, it was a very effective way to control people

Even millennia after that, information used to be scarce. By 1424, Cambridge University library owned only 122 books. In 1440 the printing press was invented that sped up the speed of printing thus reducing the cost of books

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Twitter is everywhere is Twitter

At the Web 2.0 Expo in New York, there's a lot to talk about. And especially, to Tweet about. Which is great, because I'm not there but can follow it now anyway

Some speakers have a huge screen where a live Twitter feed is presented following the Web 2.0 Expo hashtag #w2e. Danah Boyd, a Social Media Researcher from Microsoft gave a presentation that wasn't well received. While she was staring at her paper notes reading her "speech", tweeps in the audience were sharing their frustration - which were of course immediately visible on the screen in the room itself, sparking off other tweets. Cause and effect unsure, Danah was speaking so fast that it was hard to follow as well

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Redefining the meaning and goal of Social

Julie Cottin and Alex Williams plea for cutting through the wood by bringing what I call a countermessage

This usually happens when a hot topic or hype gets picked up. A hype is nothing else but a new way to do pretty much the same thing, albeit (much) faster, better, cheaper or more efficient. In that, it is a new means to (roughly) the same goal

After a while, means are being mistaken for goals. Then people start criticising the hype because their perception of it (it is a goal) doesn't allow for a business case, or ROI

Friday, 13 November 2009

Changing ecosystems: who will be 2010's dinosaur(s)?

The Dinosaur was a mighty beast, highly respected and deemed insuperable until that perception was suddenly 180-ed. There are several theories of course as to why this happened, but the one I like most is the fact that the cause (action) was simple, and the effect too: an insufficient reaction (to changing ecosystems)

Jeff Jarvis thinks there are new ecosystems out there: that's part 1 of the equation

Part 2 is right here as well
Rupert Murdoch may be the first dinosaur, announcing he wants people to pay for his news in stead of be

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Business case for Social Business Design

In my view the best opinion about Social Business Design or Enterprise 2.0 is from Stowe Boyd, who names Andrew McAfee and Dennis Howlett, as well as the Dachisgroup itself

I like the criticism, the nasty questions, and what that triggers

In essence, all of us / them are already proving that extended global collaboration works. All the discussions, tweets, blogs, conferences, disagreements and the hand wavers (quoting Dennis there) are speeding up the definition of it, its goal and its purpose

Do either of them make money out of that? Not that I've seen any mention of that, but it sure keeps them

Saturday, 7 November 2009

No cure no pay? Let's turn the IT business model around

We had the Internet-bubble. And its burst. Before that, you were pretty much considered a fool if you didn't borrow money to invest in businesses

We also have the credit crisis. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Wall Street fell in 2009. After religion and politics, now also economics have proven to not be sustainable in their extreme forms

There hasn't been much applause for new technologies during either of those two periods. Currently, Cloud computing is meeting a lot of resistance, and the rebranded E2.0, Social Business Design, is receiving some tough questions as well

But, in between those periods, we welcomed CRM, ERP, ESB, SOA, UML, BPEL, and lots of other

XML and partnerships don't mix nor match. 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3

After some last fights about EDIFACT/X12 versus XML on LinkedIn, Matt Asay on Twitter tweeted about Fudge, a hierarchical, typesafe, binary, self-describing message encoding system

And I actually like that. But, there's one showstopper to me: the self-describing part, which it has in common with XML

I have two wonderful daughters, who often play with eachother. Most of the time they'll just invent a game, making up the rules as they go. Especially the oldest is great at changing the rules during the game so she can keep ending up winning. The youngest usually puts up with that until she's fed up with it, and quits playing with her sister

Friday, 23 October 2009

Globally connected: explosive relationships. On Twitter

The inventor of the Internet, Tim Berners Lee, has joined Twitter (Tim Berners Lee on Twitter) on October 22nd 2009, 15:29 CET

His entering on Twitter will show how connected this world is: currently he has 5,000 followers, and word's spreading like a virus that he has joined. Currently Twitter Search shows a bit under a tweet per minute that tweeps are announcing his arrival

Twitter Counter tries to do a job at predicting, but its information is way too old to do good predicting

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Social Business Design - the beginning or end of E2.0?

As far as I'm concerned, the Dachis Group has taken the lead in showing and talking about Social Business Design. After Dennis Howlett's post on ZDNet Andrew McAfee reacted on it. In that post, a comment is posted by Stowe Boyd that eventually leads to Stowe Boyd's own blog post on this

And I probably missed a few others that got into it as well. Anyway, I think it's settled now that -fairly quickly I must say- Dachis and Altimeter are just doing what is meant by it - connecting internally and externally, and even being (relatively wildly) transparent about that as well

Monday, 28 September 2009

Business as a Service. Business as usual?

On the theme of Integration (EDI), the past decade we've witnessed various impulses that made great waves: they were discussed, hardly criticised, embraced by most if not all, and implemented on a large scale. Tried and tested indeed

OO, XML, then ESB, then SOA are on the list. Technology-driven they all were, and even if most people agreed that SOA was business-driven, that didn't withhold "architects" from pushing SOA by waving with their WSDL's and XSD's and boasting about Web Services having the future because of their "open standards"

Without detailing why each of these lacked the necessary added value to make a true contribution to Integration, it is evident that they did. Integration solutions today are more apart and diverse than they were 10 years ago

Friday, 18 September 2009

A palace revolution. In IT?

I do apologise for the fact that in this particular blog abbreviations will be flying around like grilled geese in the land of Cockaigne

As described, a palace revolution is about changes in culture, economy, and socio-political institutions

The cultural revolution has been ongoing for decades now, with entire countries wondering about (the state and future of) their culture due to disappearing frontiers on the currency, economical and national border level

We're right in the middle of the economical one with the current crisis

Social media is now invading the earth: 300 million people on Facebook, 50 million on Twitter - and let's not

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The perfect business application

Cost is becoming an ever increasing player on the market. Total cost, not just project cost. Time-to-market is good, but time-in-market is better, so to say

In the end, there are questions that need to be answered. 70% of those questions are asked after the go-live of a project, not during
A project might be successful but maintenance might turn out to be a disaster (or anything in that grey area in between). Fill in the blanks for a project and run, a build and test, a design and build
For the 30% of the questions that get asked during the project, the same principle applies: the farther down the chain these get asked, the more costly they are

So, how can costs be minimized? Well, just by making an existing application perfect, or by creating a perfect application

Saturday, 29 August 2009

One universal language - it's here

Daring title, isn't it? Almost true though. In my last post I shed my thoughts on a global approach towards standardisation, and this blog is about a truly global language. Global, and not universal, as the aliens might be lining up to conquer this world, but conducting B2B is not one of their concerns

A few requirements:

1. All communication exchange is done via physical messages. We all know the fun game of sitting in a circle of a dozen people, where we relay to our neighbour on the left the message we heard from our neighbour on the right. Even if there are no cheaters ;-) in the circle, the message at the end is very different
from the message at the start. More importantly: when written down, even if all the people in the circle are gone, the message will still be there

JFGI - Just Fluently Globalise It

Inspired by Wayne Horkan's blog series on automated provisioning and triggered by Andrew McAfee's blog on the future I'm wondering what's happened to the initial cheery mood around automated provisioning
And what is it called anyway? Automated provisioning gets 300K hits on Google, automatic provisioning gets twice as much. I prefer the first one though, as nothing in this life is automatic

Can you cloudsource your IT if it isn't ready for automated provisioning? I don't think so, as the whole point of Clouds seems to be the great flexibility in up- or down scaling 'your stuff': SAN, NAS, OS, DB, apps, The Works

Friday, 7 August 2009

Standardisation, Alas, poor standardisation!

Well, Shakespeare may be dead but not his play on transience

What are standards? Nothing else but what is accepted by "majority vote". Being polite is a good standard, but we all know there are exceptions to that rule - to say the least. In fact, standards are dynamic. They change from time to time, adapting to current times, knowledge gained, and knowledge lost

The Roman and Greek gods were standard a few thousand years ago, but, last time I checked, they're just a thing of the past now
Bryan Larkin has a good blog on how standards can deteriorate

A plea for "no man's land" clouds

The growing interest of system integrators for Cloud computing has introduced the term private clouds. In addition, what used to be called just clouds are now called public clouds. After all, the idea of having your stuff somewhere on this globe isn't such a comforting idea to many people. And, to be honest, there's a lot more money to make by moving and operating it

I've spent some time lately thinking about outsourcing and offshoring. If it works, it's fine, but at some time contracts have to be reviewed and some other party might become the new provider of your iron or services

What happens then? Well, in short, a lot of money is spent. It's a good time to upgrade or replace

Sunday, 26 July 2009

SOAP doesn't solve anything - a deep dive

In my last two blogs, I've talked about SOAP and its (lack of) contribution to IT in the last decade. I've also written about the basics of routing and enveloping

At last, I've touched upon the fundamental question: what if your envelope isn't equal to mine?

Well, as said before, the answer to that is simple: wrap it in your own envelope. Everyone does it.

Not only IRL with global mail procedures and systems, but queueing systems like Websphere MQ couldn't

Thursday, 23 July 2009

End the SOAP: this is how simple it should be

After yesterday's scorn on the everlasting SOAP, another explanation about enveloping and routing is probably in place

In the ideal world, all service requests and responses are sent in an envelope, like in the old-fashioned mail. In the old-fashioned mail, however, we already see standards on a national level conflicting with those of another country, so even there is no uniform envelope-definition. But, as we've seen, they all have the same in common: a recipient, a sender, and a unique address in 4 stages: country; zip; street and number. In fact, the country indicates how the address is exactly made up, functioning as a "case statement" in IT

Well the design is complete. Now the big problem has to be tackled: what if your envelope isn't equal to

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

SOAP: the postman has already rung twice

SOAP. With the benefit of hindsight: the word was well-chosen, wasn't it?

Not even mature yet, it's already so overly complex and hard to understand -and still not complete enough, think of error handling- that it will die a silent death in the next years. Good riddance

We have SMTP for sending and receiving messages across the globe, what was wrong with that? It even relays messages, guarantees delivery or at least delivery notifications. It has a retry mechanism, it can send text and binaries and attachments, it can handle all kinds of encodings - need I go on?

What is it with reinventing the wheel that persists throughout IT? And why don't people just copy the things that work, when they want to copy an existing concept?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Guaranteeing guaranteed delivery: it's easy...

A man is sitting outside a bar at a table. He raises an eyebrow, the waiter nods back as a sign that he's seen him - the first part
When the waiter is ready, he comes over to his table. "Yes sir may I help you?. "One beer please", the man says. "Okay, be right back" - the second part
After a while the waiter comes back and puts the beer on the table. "Here you go sir". "Thank you" the man says - the third part
Yet a while later, the man winks the waiter again. "Be right with you sir" the waiter says. - the fourth part

Saturday, 18 July 2009

About EDI and data quality

Missing data and lost messages are a natural phenomenon that occurs throughout each enterprise
Nothing to worry about really, as it's only human and so are applications themselves, as they're humanly-specced and -built after all

However, integrating applications like these causes a painfully clear visibility of these errors on the enterprise level, showing their significance as a whole:

Let's say that each application has an average fault percentage of 0.5%. When that application is connected to another one, it will thus foobar 0.5% of the messages causing additional work in the (usually central) point

Sunday, 17 May 2009

How Cloud computing will drive Enterprise Integration

In a few recently witnessed presentations it was extraordinary to see how two utterly unrelated matters were seamlessly joined together on the same slide

I'm talking about virtualisation and Cloud computing on the one hand, and world-wide-web services on the other hand

These two entirely different worlds (physical iron infrastructure versus logical business functionality) have been more often associated together over the last months, but it seems to be getting a bit out of hand now

How can physically relocating infrastructure give you fully disclosed backend systems? Of course it can't. It will force you to adhere to a few standards here and there, but that's all on the (rather dull) infrastructural level.