Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TIBCO puts infrastructure pieces in place for cloud compute-caliber SOA

TIBCO Software founder, chairman and CEO Vivek Ranadive used his keynote presentation at the opening of the TUCON user conference today to describe the need for an "event cloud" to support the demands on next generation of enterprise infrastructure.

Such an elevated level of cloud management would allow for complex business events and activities to occur in "real-time" at the huge scale demanded of modern business processes. He said TIBCO's goal remains the same as it has been for years, to the bring the right information to the right places at the right times. Only now is that vision nearing fruition, and the combination of SOA and cloud computing will make it happen, he said.

Ranadive also decried data trapped in databases, preferring a pending era of data portability. A global bank, for example, can expect to manage 100 million "events" a month, all of them relating to petabytes of data. Such scale and complexity will require software and hardware that can manage and adapt to keep up with demand and service performance management requirements. Relational databases won't pass muster, he said.

Ranadive's comments followed a slew of announcements by TIBCO today that, when you boil them down, add up to cloud compute-caliber SOA infrastructure in the making. [Disclosure: TIBCO is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

After speaking with a number of TIBCO executives and customers a few things become clear:
  • Portability of data is going to be a very big deal in coming years.
  • Look for tighter and more strategic alignment between TIBCO and Microsoft in the coming months.
TIBCO is embracing Microsoft Silverlight as the common presentation foundation for many of its BPM and SOA interfaces and management activity views and consoles. TIBCO is also making Microsoft's Windows Communications Foundation work well with TIBCO Enterprise Message Service, and more compatibility across additional products is likely.

The visions of cloud computing has especially strong appeal to TIBCO executives, and TIBCO play a significant role in the interactions between various cloud hosting and provider organizations. The Palo Alto, CA-based company is in discussions with notable cloud services providers, executives said. It is also possible that TIBCO could itself enter into the cloud market as an integration services provider.

The company also see growing need for interoperability infrastructure to support the increasing use of enterprise mashups and lightweight data integrations.

TIBCO proactive management approach enables SOA performance delivery as a managed service

The business of running IT for major organizations has been moving in a maturity model direction for some time. ITIL, IT service management methods, various compliance measures, and the seemingly never-ending mantra for IT to do more with less are behind these necessary trends.

Yet SOA brings a new level of needed sophistication to how IT runs itself, and how IT can perform like a business within the business. As SOA decouples services from applications and their support infrastructure -- and the use of and demand on those services becomes dynamic, even erratic -- how do you keep the trains running on time? Just as IT service management matures, SOA can make things chaotic, from a performance management perspective.

A series of announcements today from TIBCO Software's user conference, TUCON in San Francisco, underscores this need for SOA support and performance management to gain maturity, and for those scaling up SOA activities to now look for the means to provide mission-critical performance in all circumstances. [Disclosure: TIBCO is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

As enterprises also build out "private cloud" support infrastructure, a deeper and wider level of management and automation of performance management becomes essential. These times do require better management approaches.

I'll be blogging more from the TUCON event today, and adding more detail to these announcements. For now, here are the basics:

--TIBCO rolled out ActiveMatrix Service Performance Manager, which helps companies predict and fix IT problems. The performance management support, which maps dependencies and supports SLA-based delivery, is designed to play well with SOA governance, an important part of taking SOA governance to the next level.

--TIBCO is delivering an "ultra-low latency" message delivery support with its first messaging appliance. Proper performance demands raw horsepower, in addition to the finesse of dependencies mapping and vulnerability predictions.

--There are also two intriguing partnership announcements. TIBCO has partnered with Microsoft on SOA adoption paths, and TIBCO has selected Microsoft Silverlight for building and delivering rich Internet applications, which builds on TIBCO'S AJAX development.

--Secondly, TIBCO is partnering with BMC Software, in that BMC will use TIBCO infrastructure as the SOA foundation for its Business Service Management Platform.

The need to detect behaviors and patterns in ongoing SOA-based processes and transactions will provide the confidence and transparency large organizations require to build out SOA systems and methods across more business critical activities. Complex event processing offers a key ingredient for this SOA forensics value to occur. More on that later.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

HP ramps up integrated SOA management and lifecycle offerings

HP has unleashed a slew of product updates and enhancements to provide lifecycle services quality and management support, moving ever closer to a comprehensive mission-critical SOA maintenance portfolio.

Today's launch covers a wide range of products and includes new versions of Service Test and Service Test Management. At the same time, HP's Software group added new capabilities to Business Availability Center for SOA, Diagnostics for SOA, and SOA Policy Enforcer.

HP says that these product enhancements will help users accelerate enterprise-wide level SOA adoption by providing assurances that services meet design and operational requirements. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

of the new versions and capabilities include:

Service Test Management allows quality assurance teams to plan, design, and execute their activities from a SOA perspective and to instantly report on pre-production quality. By integrating this with SOA Systinet, teams can alert users that services are ready for consumption.

Service Test enables functional testing of SOA services, reducing the risk of application failure and is fully integrated with the extended BTO portfolio across the service lifecycle.

Business Availability Center (BAC) for SOA manages shared services within the existing operational IT infrastructure and processes, reducing deployment risk by ensuring that services are actively managed. It also provides proactive problem resolution before services impact consumers and business processes.

Diagnostics for SOA allows teams to identify and resolve problems by drilling down into shared services. This can operate in standalone mode or can integrate with BAC for SOA.

Policy Enforcer monitors and enforces security, performance, and other operational requirements. Monitoring data is fed directly into Diagnostics for SOA for analysis.

These products, embracing HP's BTO and Systinet SOA registry offerings, pulls together the design time and runtime elements of SOA to produce the scale and quality management assurance that telecos, financial firms and healthcare providers are demanding, said Kelly Emo, HP Software's SOA Product Marketing Manager.

The combination of these enhanced products and SOA methodologies allows for quality assurance, testing and requirements definitions to produce the services and processes that then require mission-critical operational service management, says HP.

"There's now more integration for a SOA lifecycle," said Emo.

I'm often fielding questions from enterprise IT strategists on how SOA design can be implemented to assure quality performance, especially in dynamic use patterns. The previous management approaches to distributed applications needs to be promoted to SOA scale, many of these organizations are finding.

It's important not to confuse SOA governance with performance management. SOA governance will help define the best ways that services can and should be used, and how to provide policies and guidelines for those orchestrating and consuming services and composited business processes. But the infrastructure beneath all of that governed SOA activity needs to be managed, and performance needs to be maintained.

In the best of al worlds, these functions relate well and can be managed and refined in unison, a vision that HP is obviously embracing with today's announcements.

More information about the HP SOA portfolio is available from the HP Web site.

Splunk adds change-management and Windows support to IT search software

IT search company Splunk today added to its arsenal of tools for IT managers with the launch of Splunk for Change Management, an application to audit and detect configuration and changes, and Splunk for Windows, which indexes all data generated by Windows servers and applications.

The San Francisco company provides a platform for large-scale, high-speed indexing and search technology geared toward IT infrastructures. The software, which comes in both free and enterprise versions, allows a company to search and navigate data from any application, server, or network device in real time. [Disclosure: Splunk is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Splunk for Change Management, which requires an enterprise license, continuously audits all configurations and changes, detects unauthorized changes, validates change deployment, and discovers service-impacting changes during incident response.

The new application leverages the existing Splunk Platform, allowing users to combine change audit events, configuration data, activity and error logs, and actual system and user behavior. This differentiates it from the traditional approach, which is often disconnected from incident response and cut off from other sources of IT data.

Among the features of the new product are:
  • Out-of-the box dashboards with over 40 reports showing changes across all datacenter components including applications, servers and network devices.
  • Predefined alerts that detect unauthorized change based on configuration variances and correlation with service desk systems.
  • Predefined searches to help identify service-impacting changes
  • Integration with service desk systems that validates the effect of change on system behavior.
Splunk for Windows, a free application, integrates Splunk's IT search with Microsoft's System Center Operations Manager's command and control view of the Windows infrastructure.

Splunk indexes event logs, registry keys, performance metrics, and applications log files, making all the data searchable from a single place.

Reports and dashboards included in the application provide a bird's eye view of service levels and problems across a large number of servers and applications, and predefined alerts can warn of cross-component problems.

Splunk has a variety of solutions for IT managers and developers who need some visibility into their various systems and components. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the Splunk Platform.

"The Splunk Platform and associated ecosystem should quickly grow the means to bridge the need for transparency between runtime actualities and design-time requirements. When developers can easily know more about what applications and systems do in the real world in real time, they can make better decisions and choices in the design and test phases. This obviously has huge time- and money-saving implications."

And, more than two years ago, I did a podcast about Splunk, when it launched the Splunk Base, an open Creative Commons-licensed repository of Wikis that with volume adoption to give systems troubleshooters a searchable library of knowledge about what ails IT components and how to swiftly remedy those ills. You can listen to the podcast here.

Splunk for Change Management pricing starts at $4,000 and requires an enterprise license. A 30-day free trial is available.

Splunk for Windows is free and is now available on the Splunk Base site.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

HP's security management model brings comprehensive approach to corporate risk reduction

Listen to the podcast. Read a full transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

We live in an age where there is so much exposure to risk and information security pitfalls that when data gets out -- it gets out in a big way. Devastating security breaches are becoming routine in the media, and those are only the ones we hear about. There have never been more ways for sensitive data and corporate assets to be poorly managed.

So how do large, complex companies and governments better protect themselves? How do they manage new compliance regulations that spout up and change constantly? How can people and processes be better organized to thwart bad practices before they lead to potentially catastrophic losses?

Surprisingly, the answer has more to do with management methodology than security technology. In this sponsored podcast discussion learn from HP security expert Tari Schreider how a comprehensive new security management approach, called Information Security Service Management (ISSM) and its reference model, offers companies a comprehensive framework with which to finally come to grips with myriads corporate risks and daunting compliance requirements.

Here are some excerpts:
When we read about a breach of security -- the proverbial tape rolling off the back of the truck with all of the Social Security numbers -- we find that, when you look at the morphology of that security breach, it’s not necessarily that a product failed. It’s not necessarily that an individual failed. It’s that the process failed. There was no end-to-end workflow and nobody understood where the break points were in the process.

It’s not unusual for us to present back to a client that they have three or four different identity management systems that they never knew about. They might have four or five disparate identity stores spread throughout the organization. If you don’t know it and if you can’t see it, you can’t manage it.

HP's ISSM ... positions security as a driver for IT business-process improvement. It reduces the amount of operational risk, which ensures a higher degree of continuity of business operations. It’s instrumental in uncovering inadequate or failing internal processes that stave off security breaches. It also turns security into a highly leveraged, high-value process within your organization. ... It allows you to actually make security sticky to other business processes.

When I sit down with CFOs or CIOs or business-unit stakeholders, I can ask one question that will be a telltale sign of whether they have a well-managed, continuously improving information security program. That question is, "How much did you spend on security last year?" Then I just shut up. ... They don't have any answer. If you don’t know what you are spending on security, then you actually don’t know what you are doing for security. It starts from there.

We show them that they actually have 40, 50, or 60 [security products], because they're spread throughout the organization, and there's a tremendous amount of duplication. ... Today, security controls are buried in some spreadsheet or Word document, and there is really no way to manage the behavior of those controls.

We want to work with that individual and position the ISSM Reference Model as the middle layer, which is typically missing, to pull together all the pieces of their disparate security programs, tools, policies, and processes in an end-to-end system.

Historically, businesses throughout the world have lacked the discipline to self-regulate. So there is no question that the more onerous types of regulations are going to continue. That's what happened in the subprime [mortgage] arena, and the emphasis toward [mitigating] operational risk is going to continue and require organizations to have a greater level of due diligence and control over their businesses.

It seems that you are weaving ISSM together so that you get a number of checks and balances, backstops and redundancies -- so that there aren’t unforeseen holes through which these risky practices might fall.

The beauty of ISSM is that it's very nimble and very malleable. We can assign responsibilities at an attribute level for control, which allows people to contribute, and then it allows them to have a sharing-of-power strategy, if you will, for security.

It's that cohesion that we bring to the table. How they intersect with one another, and how we have common workflows developed for the process in an organization gives the client a sense that we are paying attention to the entire continuum of continuity of business.

Businesses are run on technology, and technologies require security and continuity of operations. So, we understand that this is a moving target.
Listen to the podcast. Read a full transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Friday, April 25, 2008

BriefingsDirect Insights podcast examines WOA-SOA continuum with keen eye on cloud computing

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Read a full transcript.

There's been welling interest and discussion lately around so-called Web Oriented Architecture (WOA) and established Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), and how the two relate. And then there's the whole cloud computing trend, and well ... how does that relate, too?

So I gathered a panel of noted IT analysts for a BriefingsDirect podcast discussion, moderated by myself, to delve into the topic even more deeply. We came up with some gems, and perhaps moved the needle forward on understanding these fascinating issues.

But let's back up a bit. The recent chapter of the WOA story began with some blogs and research that concluded that SOA was not a barnstorming trend, and that perhaps WOA was more of interest to many service developers and line of business entrepreneurs inside and outside of enterprises.

That lead to more discussion on WOA as a superset of SOA, and how SOA may need WOA to accelerate its adoption. And, of course, there's been Google App Engine, Microsoft Live Mesh, and the Apps synergy to chew over.

Then last week, StrikeIron CEO Dave Linthicum presented a podcast on some of the powerful points of the discussion, and Dion Hinchcliffe, founder and CTO of Hinchcliffe & Co., has been posting, micro-blogging and lecturing on the subject for much of the past two weeks. Those discussion points brings us up to the latest BriefingsDirect Insights Edition podcast, Vol. 28.

In this episode, recorded April 24, 2008, we're joined by Jim Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research; Joe McKendrick, an independent analyst and ZDNet blogger; Tony Baer, principal at OnStrategies and blogger; Brad Shimmin, principal analyst at Current Analysis, and Phil Wainewright, independent analyst, director at Procullux Ventures and ZDNet SaaS blogger.

I'll be delivering a transcript on the chat as well, but the topic is fresh enough to run with the audio-only content now. Let us know, did you learn anything or develop any keener understanding about WOA and SOA from this podcast?

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Read a full transcript.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tidal Software launches intelligent reporting for Enterprise Scheduler

Tidal Software has announced a reporting product that gives enterprises insight into the functioning of their job scheduling environment, enabling IT and line-of-business personal to make quick decisions in both IT and business environments.

Tidal Intelligent Reporting, designed to support Tidal Enterprise Scheduler, aggregates all the scheduler's metrics into a data warehouse and can combine information from multiple job scheduling environments, giving users an enterprise-wide view. This allows personnel to view performance across multiple sites and have access to comparisons between development, test, and production environments.

The product includes ready-to-run reports on production day status, job history, user activity, and audit reports. Users can customize these and create new reports to meet differing needs.

Automatic scheduling allows reports to run automatically, and users can view them in a browser or choose to deliver them to a PDF document, an Excel spreadsheet, or a Word document. Users also have access to a report editor to modify and customize report views.

Security features include the ability to enact fine-grained authorization, segregating specific reports and views depending on an individual user's need to access certain information.

Last fall, I had the pleasure of participating in a live discussion on IT and SOA management at the Harvard Club of Boston with Jason Bloomberg, managing partner at analyst firm ZapThink. Moderating the discussion was Martin Milani, chief technology officer at Tidal Software, which sponsored the luncheon event. Jason and I explored how IT management will evolve in the world of service-based applications. [Disclosure: Tidal Software is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

The discussion delved into issues of new standards, how SOA demands that performance management and change management should augment and elevate the role of systems management, and on how the integrity of services delivery requires a deep and wide approach to "management in total" across a service's lifecycle. You can listen to the podcast here and view a complete transcript here.

Intelligent Reporting is currently available and supports version 5.3 and higher of Tidal Enterprise Scheduler.

Monday, April 21, 2008

'Enough with WOA, stick to SOA,' say IT architects -- I say drop WOA and SOA

Mike Meehan at has done some homework on the use of Web Oriented Architecture (WOA), and the IT folks in the field are fed up. Enough with the labels, they seem to be saying.

And they raise excellent points. I for one am by no means wed to the "WOA" nomenclature. Several other industry analysts recently told me as much -- "WOA is not the right term" -- during a dinner at the IBM Impact event earlier this month.

So what really counts is the concept of not waiting for legacy-abstracted, middleware-driven, investments-heavy SOA before seeking wider berth for more easily available and ecumenical services-based productivity. WOA is about lightweight and externally and internally originating standards-based services and independent data being used now, not after an internal SOA infrastructure is ready (and for some that's five years).

You know the drill: Build it and the services will come, so ramp up on that registry/repository, BPEL engine, scalable middleware beyond EAI, SOAP and XML appliances, additional performance management tier, ESB, federated ESB, data services tier (and another 15 acronyms there), SCA/SDO support, Windows Communication Foundation hooks, and so on.

All of these can be powerful and necessary, but there are multiple tracks to services and business processes flexibility. And some of them are ready now, are cheap and even free, and they are driving a lot of innovation in the field. And some do not require all that much input from IT.

So, true, WOA, isn't an architecture, it's a webby style of apps and integration, of mashups and open APIs, of using REST and RIA clients, all from a variety of Internet sources. It's integration as a service, too. These can all be composited, accessed and managed by an enterprise's internal SOA, or not. The services can come from a cloud, public or private.

These webby assets could just as well come together as portals, standalone Web apps, SaaS, or RIA front ends for composited ecology services that support extended enterprise processes. The point is there's no need to wait.

So WOA as a term does help break out of the box in terms of thinking about SOA as more than "the long journey" that can pay off in years after taking years to develop. Some vendors would have you believe that SOA only happens after a PO is issued for their products.

I also think there's more grassroots political support for webby apps/services inside of sales, marketing, procurement, and line of business departments in many enterprises. They don't know they want SOA, but they may know they want what they see on the Web, and from startups, and from their personal use. They want to use tools they can understand, that help them reach customers and suppliers, by gaining productivity by doing a Web search and signing up to build or access a useful service.

We are now, and this week in particular at the Web 2.0 Expo, seeing rapid ramp-up of services hybrids -- of public/private clouds, services ecologies, internal and external hosting, social enterprise media tools, mashups in myriad forms, integration of services regardless of origins or types of aggregation.

You can today begin a business online and scale it without an IT department, or an on-premises datacenter. You just can.

These concepts are different from what most think of SOA. And if all of this is SOA, then SOA loses it's meaning. By meaning too much, SOA means nothing. And SOA as a term has never been easy for a lot of people to get comfortable with, in the first place.

The fact is that the definitions of and distinctions between applications, platforms, services, tools, clouds, portals, integration, middleware are -- all up for grabs. IT as a concept is up for grabs. The shifts in the software arena at that disruptive. It's why Microsoft is seeking to buy Yahoo, and not Oracle.

I'll bet if Mike Meehan interviewed some sales executives, marketing managers, business analysts, entrepreneurs, and human resources directors -- they might say they cotton to WOA and what it means, more than to SOA and what they don't yet understand it to mean.

This is my point: SOA as nomenclature is not cutting it outside of the IT department. And perhaps some other phrases and/or value propositions would better describe than WOA the innovation now taking place.

Perhaps we need to drop any reference to architecture, and reference the payoffs -- better online work done quickly and cheaply. Perhaps we should call is SWA -- services without architecture, and be done with enterprise architecture all together (as Dave Linthicum boldly suggested recently).

Perhaps it's best not to call what's going on anything at all, and just do it. And that includes dumping "SOA" as a name. So I'm for dropping WOA, but let's be really honest and drop "SOA" too.

Kapow's Web-to-spreadsheet data service helps enterprises exploit cloud-based mashups

Kapow Technologies at the Web 2.0 Expo this week will aim to solve one of the biggest problems facing enterprises as they seek to solve external-internal data chaos by leveraging cloud-based data management services.

With Kapow OnDemand, a cloud-based service that uses the company's Mashup Server, Kapow will provide the ability to create data-rich mashups in minutes and then make that Web data ready for delivery into ubiquitous internal Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, or other enterprise applications and integration infrastructure.

Kapow OnDemand offers users access to a visual scripting environment for building the services and feeds that automates the access and delivery of web-based intelligence and data -- then delivers it the desktop or application of choice. According to Kapow, even Web-savvy, non-technical users will be able to build "robots" in a matter of minutes that can extract, transform, and output Web data.

The hosted service may provide the fastest way to deliver real-time data from the Web into Excel spreadsheets, and therefore into the hands of business analysts, business processes and for internal publishing feeds and streams. This will circumvent the old cut-and-paste logjam and allow analysts to rapidly collect market data on such things as competitive pricing, product mix analysis, or financial metrics, for example.

Despite a huge and growing amount of "webby" online data and content, capturing and defining that data and then making it available to users and processes has proven difficult, due to differing formats and data structures. The usual recourse is manual intervention, and oftentimes cut-and-paste chores. IT departments are not too keen on such chores.

But Kapow's OnDemand approach provides access to the underlying data sources and services to be mashed up and uses a Robot Designer to construct custom Web harvesting feeds and services in a flexible role-based execution runtime. Additionally, associated tools allow for monitoring and managing a portfolio of services and feeds, all as a service.

Deployed on a commercial-grade grid computing environment, OnDemand offers tight security, load balancing, high availability, failover, and automated backup and restore. Pricing for the service will begin at $3,400 per month.

Kapow this week will also announce its Connector for Excel, which allows spreadsheet users to find and execute Web services. By using Kapow OnDemand or the Kapow Mashup Server Web 2.0 Edition along with Connector for Excel, these users can bring XML content and Web services directly into their spreadsheets.

Kapow will offer a product preview Webinar on April 29, covering both OnDemand and the Excel Connector.

Last January, I sat down for a sponsored podcast with Kapow CTO Stefan Andreasan. He explained how much of the potentially useful data on the Internet exists in a form that is designed to be easily read by humans, and not by enterprise applications. [Disclosure: Kapow is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
There's is a third group, which I call intelligence data. That's hard to find, but gives you that extra insight, extra intelligence, to let you draw a conclusion which is different from -- and hopefully better than -- your competitors. That’s data that’s probably not accessible in any standard way, but will be accessible on the Web in a browser. This is exactly what our product does. It allows you to turn any Web-based data into standard format, so you can access what I call intelligence data in a standard fashion.
Joe Keller, Kapow's chief marketing officer, explained to Computerworld the significance of the new OnDemand service:
By connecting [Web mashups] to Excel, users can have real-time data inside their spreadsheets along with their corporate data to get that 360-degree view of the data they are analyzing. If users can build spreadsheets, if they can do the programming of those spreadsheets, the plug-in makes [mashups] a native element inside of Excel.

Mashups provide that layer we need to really let the business do a lot of the work themselves. It still governs the services and creates the services, but it allows the business start doing business themselves.
Last month, Kapow raised another $11.6 million from investors, including Steamboat Ventures, Kennet Partners, and NorthCap Partners.

This service and the means to sidestep IT (in a good way) so that line of business decision-makers can avail themselves of all the data they can, regardless of its origins, begins the path toward solving the data management mess most enterprises are in. I expect to see many variations on this theme, with data access growing richer and varied -- but also with access and security controls.

As enterprises grasp the productivity that comes with public cloud data management, it may well spur them to bring more of their own data into the services layer where it can be delivered to where it brings the most value.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Open source SOA infrastructure project CXF elevated to full Apache status

After community incubation and development for nearly two years, the Apache CXF open-source SOA and middleware interoperability framework evolved last week into a full project of the Apache Software Foundation.

CXF, with some 60,000 downloads since July 2007, takes its place alongside 60 other Apache projects. The framework began its life as Celtix, which was supported by IONA Technolgies in the ObjectWeb community, and then merged with XFire from Codehaus. It was later moved to the Apache incubator process.

CXF's graduation from incubator to project status involved widespread developer collaboration, taking it through six releases. CXF is now ranked among the top 10 Java software projects, receiving support from the Mule and JBoss communities.

It also serves as the foundation for IONA' FUSE Services Framework. Dan Kulp, IONA's principal engineer has been designated as the CXF project management committee chair. [Disclosure: IONA is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Nearly a year ago, I sat down with Kulp for a podcast on Apache and CXF. Here's what he had to say:
CXF is really designed for high performance, kind of like a request-response style of interaction for one way, asynchronous messaging, and things like that. But it’s really designed for taking data in from a variety of transports and message formats, such as SOAP or just raw XML. If you bring in the Apache Yoko project, we have CORBA objects coming in off the wire. It basically processes them through the system as quickly as possible with very little memory and processing overhead. We can get it to the final destination of where that data is supposed to be, whether it’s off to another service or a user-developed code, whether it’s in JavaScript or JAX-WS/JAXB code.

That’s the goal of what the CXF runtime is -- just get that data into the form that the service needs, no matter where it came from and what format it came from in, and do that as quickly as possible.
You can listen to the podcast here and read a full transcript here. IONA recently told fellow ZDNet blogger Paula Rooney that it intends to continue to invest in and support open source activities. And IONA is increasing its role in Apache.

As we now explore the fascinating intersection of SOA and WOA -- with on-premises services and cloud-based resources (including data) supporting ecologies of extended enterprises business processes -- I expect open source projects such as CXF to play a major role.Creating federated relationships between private and public clouds and their services and resources requires more than just industry standards. It requires visibility and access, the type that comes from open source communities and open use licenses.

I expect that open source code-based services and infrastructure will be the preferred choice for building the layers of an extended enterprise service ecology that binds organizations while protecting their assets and interests -- and which allows for trust and cooperation.

In a sense, open source SOA software is ready-made for extra-cloud oriented business processes and relationships. Perhaps one of the supporters of these projects will become a cloud host for integration as a service services?

Friday, April 18, 2008

TIBCO's ActiveMatrix earns 'Product of Year' nod from judges

TIBCO Software came home this week with a gold star when named its ActiveMatrix SOA platform a "Product of the Year" in the assembly and integration category in's annual awards.

The award was sweeter for the Palo Alto, Calif., company because it was based on products released before TIBCO has announced a beefed-up version of ActiveMatrix 2.0, adding new functions and a new enterprise service bus (ESB).

ActiveMatrix provides a single platform for developing, deploying and managing heterogeneous SOA. It includes capabilities for service integration, composite application development and governance. Expect more in the service performance management space from TIBCO soon.

TIBCO claims that customers using version 2.0 can achieve additional business process productivity gains, and can lower total cost of ownership compared to alternative approaches.

One member of the SearchSOA judging panel explained why ActiveMatrix got a top spot:
TIBCO has pushed the envelope with grid architecture here. It definitely helps in terms of achieving technology independence and it gives users a service platform that should be easier to scale. Most times you see "platforms" that lack any central organizing technology. This has it and it should enable users to deploy the functionality they need only when they need it.
I've been following TIBCO's upward trajectory for some time and, more than a year ago, produced a BriefingsDirect SOA Insights Edition podcast devoted largely to TIBCO and ActiveMatrix. You can listen to the podcast here.

Last year, TIBCO architect Paul Brown joined me for a sponsored book review podcast on the concept of Total Architecture, which ActiveMatrix 2.0 undergirds. Read a full transcript of the discussion.

[Disclosure: TIBCO has been a sponsor of my BriefingsDirect podcasts. I have also been a reviewing judge for product rankings.]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thought leadership grows around advancing 'WOA plus SOA' as enterprise-cloud duo

Respected developer, adviser and thought leader Dion Hinchcliffe has posted a watershed blog that develops a compelling rationale for Web Oriented Architecture's (WOA's) advancing role in enterprises.

The logic is not to supplant or dismiss Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), but rather to examine how WOA -- also known as lightweight, Web 2.0 applications development and deployment -- should provide an onramp to and stepping stone for SOA generally. WOA and SOA together -- in a harmony that unlocks both the power of cloud computing and of traditional enterprise architectures -- presents a very interesting future indeed.

Dion builds on recent posts by Dave Linthicum, Joe McKendrick, Tony Baer, myself, Phil Wainewright, and some reported findings by Burton Group’s Anne Manes. Many others have been also developing concepts and methodologies for providing the means for enterprises to exploit pure web resources for advancing developer productivity and business process extensibility.

Dion's right. Enterprises don't need to wait four years to build out and culturally align to SOA, not when they can proceed to WOA and continue on their long-term cadence toward building what IBM calls the federated "ESB backplane" for managed business services.

WOA simply allows for many productive SOA activities now -- without the huge investment, the wrenching cultural shifts, and the required several years of IT-business transformation. WOA plus SOA forges the mentality of managed cloud-based services and continued on-premises infrastructure exploitation right away.

WOA plus SOA for even modest B2E, B2C, and B2B business processes development and augmentation is just too good a deal to pass up, and it contributes to longer-term and perhaps more highly structured internal SOA infrastructure values and practices.

Enterprise marketers grappling with huge media and online outreach change, cannot wait years to gain the ability to foster, participate, share and satisfy the needs of socially aggregated communities. Sales forces can not go through IT and its SOA roadmap to combine data and market analysis effectively. Product designers can't managed a global supply chain using ERP alone. Procurement officers can't do more for less based on EDI alone. Integration can not be accomplished for business ecologies based on middleware designed for point-to-point EAI.

The crucial functions of sales, marketing, just-in-time supplier integration, and just-right procurement can't wait for SOA. They can make use now of WOA plus SOA.

As Dion says:
So if so-called Web 2.0 companies — which value participation almost above all else, both from consumers and organizations that want to integrate them into their offerings — are seeing highly desirable levels of adoption and significant ROI, how can this help understand how to improve our efforts in the enterprise? Most new Web 2.0 applications start out life with an API since getting connected to partners that will help you grow and innovate is a well-known essential for success online today. Despite years of SOA, we still don’t focus on consumption and openness as fundamentally essential characteristics to building an internal partner ecosystem that have beat a path to your door to use the services you are offering to them to build upon.
And as I've said, SOA lacks the political center of gravity and heft to spur adoption through grassroots demand. The critical constituencies of users/workers, sales, marketing, product development, and procurement -- and perhaps quite a few developers -- are not demanding SOA. It remains too abstract to them, while what they see possible on the web is tangible, understandable, seemingly attainable.

SOA may be the right thing to do, but ushering in its adoption broadly and deeply is proving arduous and stifles the expected ROI, which erodes the acceleration of further adoption. WOA plus SOA can help solve this.

WOA has evolved via massive scale trial-and-error, and so has been designed through viral adoption, user pull, self-help and with self-qualification of real-time productivity in mind. It works because it just works, not because it's supposed to work, or because someday it will work. As Dion says, "And these new models intrinsically take advantage of the important properties of the Web that have made it the most successful network in history."

Cloud providers and mainstay enterprise software vendors could make sweeter WOA plus SOA music together. They may not have a choice. If Microsoft acquires Yahoo!, there will be a huge push for Microsoft Oriented Architecture that will double-down on "software plus services." And MSFT combined with Yahoo would have an awful lot in place to work from -- from the device and PC client, to the server farm, business applications, developer tools and communities, and ramp-up of global cloud/content/user metadata resources. I think Microsoft already understands the power of WOA plus SOA.

Therefore Google, Amazon, Apple, eBay, and perhaps some of the traditional communications service providers and media companies will need to form natural and more attractive alternatives ... fast. There is no reason why IBM, HP, Oracle/BEA, TIBCO, and SAP should not seek out the consumer-facing cloud partner that can bring the WOA to their SOA.

They will need cloud partners that best further their business interests, and the productivity interests of their online clients and users. Microsoft will be offering some significant enticements along these lines -- and once again getting between the providers and the users, with a cash register going cha-ching, cha-ching all the while.

Enterprises and software vendors need WOA plus SOA, if for no other reason than Microsoft needs WOA plus SOA even more.

[Disclosure: HP and TIBCO are sponsors of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Desktop as a service era ramps up as Citrix marks May delivery of XenDesktop at a tough price to beat

Heralding a new era for desktop as a service (DaaS), the long-awaited XenDesktop line from Citrix Systems will become available during the Citrix Synergy 2008 conference in mid-May.

The XenDesktop product line is the latest entry in the effervescent virtualization market and will be co-marketed with Microsoft. With the XenDesktop, companies can virtualize entire Windows desktop instances from their data centers and deliver them on-demand as a service to any workers with a web browser and broadband.

General good guy and fellow ZDNet blogger Dan Kusnetzky has a post on XenDesktop too.

With current PC software management, updating and upkeep costing some $5,000 per user seat annually (and that's low for many companies), according to some industry experts, Citrix is predicting a saving of up to 40 percent in PC desktop TCO using the virtualized server delivery and on demand UI approach.

Because the Citrix DaaS system dynamically assembles each user's personal desktop image from fresh software components each time the user logs in, updates and upgrades are seamless -- for the operating system and applications. Management centrally saves from help desk calls and visits to the physical location of the PCs. Combined with remote access, PCs may never feel the warm touch of an IT admin or help desk steward once its out of its shipping crate, if then.

The system separates applications from the desktop OS and provisions them independently at runtime from new master images. Each time they log in, users get a fresh desktop that is more secure, personalized, and free from corruption and conflicts. A high-speed delivery protocol provides instant access to desktops and applications over any network, no matter how far users are from the data center. That means near-instant boot-ups.

From an administration viewpoint, managing desktops and applications separately, and combining them only at runtime, allows IT to maintain a single master Windows desktop OS image for all users, rather than fully loaded desktop virtual machines for each employee. This also simplifies lifecycle management. And Microsoft still get its CAL, but saves the enterprise on the PC TCO at the same time.

Why didn't they think of this sooner? Guess MSFT had other things on its mind other than helping out its customers with the high cost of computing. I guess we're glad Citrix and others forced their hand.

And so how about that $500 PC thin client market, eh? I'm Wyse to that. HP likes it too.

What's more, Microsoft is also perhaps embracing DaaS now so to diminish the market opportunity for non-Windows thin clients, ans the DaaS delivery of Linux and Unix (Open BSD) offerings. How much cheaper would non-Windows PC TCO be when the delivery via DaaS? Probably not enough to energize that market. There's always the SaaS and cloud markets, however, to keep MSFT busy on the commoditization front.

I tagged Citrix and its desktop virtualization as a powerful market disrupter about six months ago and it seems to be living up to its promise. As I said then:

When you combine virtualization benefits up and down the applications lifecycle -- with such functionality as back-end automated server instance provisioning -- you get excellent cost controls. You get excellent management, security and code controls. And you marry two of the hottest trends going -- powerfully low TCO for serving applications at scale with radically simpler and managed delivery via optimized WANs (NetScaler Web application accelerator) of those applications to the edge device.

The desktop as a service market has been bubbling vigorously lately. Just over a week ago, MokaFive announced its desktop virtualization product, which combines cloud computing with local execution.

And I expect news any day now from Desktone, which is aiming many of the same values that Citrix is delivering with XenDesktop -- but to service providers so that an ecology for DaaS can develop to homes and small businesses (and maybe enterprises too). The Desktone approach gives the tools to deliver DaaS to, say, your telephone company so they can offer a PC as a service at a flat fee per month. More on that later. Incidentally, Citrix is an investor in Desktone, so they see eye to eye on a lot of this.

The XenDesktop comes in three editions: Platinum, which offers the most flexible user access, performance monitoring and quality of service (QoS) capabilities, and remote virtual desktop support; Enterprise, an integrated system for cost-effective scalability; and Standard, the entry-level product.

Pricing will begin at $75 per concurrent user. Details about requirements can be found at the XenDesktop Web site. Until May 20, XenDesktop is available as a public beta and can be downloaded from the Citrix site.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SOA and compute clouds point to rethinking data entirely: roles and permissions, not rows and tables

There's nothing like a conversation to bring out insights and new ideas. Tony Baer and I were chatting on this very pearl of productivity last week, that an open roundtable analyst call always allowed us to move the needle forward in terms of thought leadership in ways that solo writing and one-think cannot.

And then there's Twitter, which is sort of a blend of a roundtable chat, solo writing, one-on-one and blogging -- all to and with a refined, social graph-defined audience. And it was in this act of Twitter-thinking this morning that I slid into a new realization, new for me anyway. It has to do with data, and the need for multi-permeable access to data, across organizational boundaries, stored in many places, that both protects valued and proprietary data while breaking processes out of the corporate IT straight jacket.

I'm seeking better understanding of how cloud (public and private)-base webby apps can and should be a big part of SOA (especially greenfield services), and may even become the driver for rapid use and adoption of SOA. I'm also fascinated by PaaS, SaaS, IaaS, AWS, GAE, and the services ecology development from both small and large providers. And I know that social networking and new media will play into big business in a big way.

These issues have huge impact on many vendors, from, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Yahoo!, Oracle, SAP, and HP, on down to a burgeoning class of startup-class of cloud capabilities supporters. Notice how I lumped together older-style enterprise IT vendors and "consumery" services providers?

The hang-up on understanding how these two worlds -- public clouds and enterprise IT (soon private clouds) -- come together hinges back to who/what handles, owns, manages and offers secure access to (or not) the data.

It's clear that applications and logic can become services, atomized or aggregated. User interfaces can be delivered as a service, as parts of apps or as entire desktops. Same for mobile access.

Of the various levels of abstraction of what goes into IT-based activities, almost all can be deconstructed and more productively delivered as thick, thin, or mixed (software plus services) webby apps. Agile business processes are the new coin of the realm. The days of standalone, PC-based apps are over. Off the wire services will make up more and more of what we will soon colloquially refer to as productivity applications.

But then there's the data, still strapped into a definition that associates it to applications, even as applications as we know them are evolving dramatically. After talking with Dave Linthicum, now CEO of StikeIron, on his vision ... and Kirill Sheynkman, president and CEO of Elastra (as well as many others in the Enterprise 2.0 space) ... I'm now convinced it's time for some radical re-thinking on data, and what it is that it should actually be related to and associated with.

Perhaps it's time to fully divorce data from applications, and wed it all instead to people and groups, guided by roles and permissions, and therefore no longer co-located with applications or even enterprises. House it where it can be used easiest, and stored and protected cheapest. It's heresy today perhaps, but more of the data that matters will be in the cloud anyway.

We always think of data as tied to an application, or in a managed store (often times distributed) that applications read-write to. The store can be analyzed, protected, backed-up, consolidated and cleaned up, messed up again, poked and prodded. We still think of data belonging to some store, and by association, to a department or corporation or IT sys admin.

Data is controlled and managed as centrally as possible, except that it's always scattered and inconsistent. A battle rages in every enterprise as it tries to manage and control its data. It's a losing battle that is costing more and more of the IT spend pie each quarter. And there are many good reasons for this battle -- except that it's holding us all back.

It's now clear that the current mentality of data and its place is holding us back in unacceptably unproductive ways. In this day and age, you will never control your data at the margins. Those margins used to be PCs and departmental servers. Now they are becoming clouds, social networks, free web email apps, Twitter. The data that impacts and drives your company is a complex system not unlike the weather, or quantum-level particles. Try and grab and control that rainbow, if you will. Probability rules, not exactitude.

CXOs can define the happenings of their enterprise by the audits, create the ledgers, and fill up the financials data warehouses. But so much more is going on beyond the glass rooms. The best that CXOs can hope for is to approximate the state of most actual enterprise data, and even that leaves out what is happening in the social media domains, where the innovation, customer feedback and process insights are often occurring.

All those hard drives, all those iPods, all those memory sticks. All the metadata of what your workers do via the web -- out in the murky clouds -- it is all out of your reach. This is already the case, and it will not be a genie you can back in the bottle.

And the choices for retrenchment? Close off your workers from access to web search? Deny them access to your suppliers' portals? Erect firewalls that separate your customers, clients, and prospects from your own sales, marketing, and fulfillment providers? YOU CAN'T MOVE AT INTERNET TIME WITHOUT BEING ON THE INTERNET.

In other words, the ways we treat data today is unnatural. And pretending otherwise is unsustainable. There is a huge productivity opportunity for those that can re-think data, from concept to execution, that can exploit the gathering clouds. This requires radical rethinking, I'm pretty sure, though I can't say I know what the new data landscape will look like.

It will take a social capital-level ecology of complex systems in a pattern of ongoing churn for the answers to arise and quickly become outdated. There are deep and fundamental disruptions under way in media and software now that will force the hand on data. If you don't use what's free from the web and clouds, and your competition does, then what?

So what comes next? There's this murky middle muddle now between public and private clouds, SOA, independently located data, master data, and tools and development. If Google App Engine, Amazon Web Services and the near-certain follow-ons from Microsoft/Yahoo, HP, Oracle, IBM, and perhaps a handful of other major players have even a minor impact -- data conceptually is deeply changed. The cloud providers will give way the tools, single sign-on ID management, runtime, storage, and they will probably let you keep the data that you think is your data.

What enterprises will no longer have is the control of the market data from the public clouds about the users, the groups, their behaviors, attention, their demographics, buying patterns -- all the service on-ramps and off-ramps to your enterprise's revenue growth. Private clouds may not alone be enough to reach mass or long-tail audiences. Will your database of users, your email blast list, your CRM data be as good as Google's, or Microsoft's? Can you sell and market your goods and services without using online ads? Who will sell them to you?

If you're thinking of data as associated to internal applications, as the read-write store for ERP activities, or as the list of your sales leads and prospects in CRM -- you may want to think again. Your data and the clouds' data will need to work together, and perhaps those that bite the bullet and leverage the public cloud's to the hilt will have a huge advantage over those that do not.

Take a hard look at the diagram on this blog by Dan Farber, called "Google's Vision." and Google think of data quite a bit differently than you do.

And just as you are in cozy partnership (like you have a choice) with your ERP or SOA vendors, enterprises and businesses of almost all sizes will be in partnership soon with the clouds. The shared and protected data alike will be scattered about, too complex for closed marts and masters. The cloud that can manage data in way that allows both user-level and process-level access, with granular permissioning -- and allows CXOs to feel good about it all -- gets the gold ring. The cloud business is a 50-year business.

How should your data be treated in this new cloud era?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Google App Engine creation process live on Twitter

I'm watching Dion Hinchcliffe and a small group of other observers and developers create a Google App Engine (GAE) application live via Twitter.

We're on the cutting edge of using social media and near-real time collaboration tools (free) to learn and use (GAE) for free, and then blog on the process (also free). The price is obviously right, and the ease and transparency of sharing and witnessing are just about friction-free.

As Dion points out (and Dan Farber makes note), there are trade-offs between GAE and Amazon Web Services. And there are concerns to be evaluated and vetted over the application lifecycle remaining in the Google cloud, as Garett Rogers makes note.

But the process I'm witnessing here on Twitter is nothing short of breathtaking for its rapid, agile and productive online team approach (we are located all over) to web app development. Other Google services could be used, too, like Groups. And, of course, developers are well acquainted with other forms of collaboration such as CollabNet.

If even for minor apps, services, or for prototyping development of subsets of large projects, this is all very compelling. I'm fascinated by how developers will use GAE within existing projects and processes. GAE will not be used in isolation, I suspect, but will be a powerful tool in the WOA quiver. And that may also prompt more use of GAE as the end-all, be-all for more an more apps.

I know a lot of people use Amazon as a test bed for their apps. Google App Engine will be very attractive for that too.

But what Google can soon bring to the table is an ability to put these apps and services in front of a ton of other developers and huge potential audiences of end users and consumers. Google has clout of scale, metadata and reach that Amazon does not.

Like others, I hope that Google adds more tools to Python on GAE, like Ruby. I also hope they find a way to port parts or all of the apps off of GAE. Perhaps for a cost, you could choose to not only deploy via the Google cloud, but perhaps get the basic script and code for extraction and use elsewhere, or for mixed-purpose development.

Bungee Labs has that option, that the developers' own the code IP and can take the apps elsewhere. [Disclosure: Bungee Labs is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 names Nexaweb's Enterprise Web Suite as 'Product of the Year'

Nexaweb Technologies, the application platform provider, just keeps piling on the accolades. Its latest achievement is the Product of the Year award for its Enterprise Web Suite from

The gold-status award for the Burlington, Mass. Company, came in the RIA /Composite Application Assembly category, and was based on innovation, performance, ease of integration into environment, ease of use and manageability, functionality, and value. [Disclosure: Nexaweb is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts. I have also been a reviewing judge for product rankings.]

In January, Nexaweb received the Editors' Choice Award from CMP's Intelligent Enterprise.

Just over a month ago, I blogged on Nexaweb, and its role in helping enterprises modernize without pain, confusion or excessive cost.

For Nexaweb, the end game for enterprises is flexible composite workflows, and so the newest offerings are more than tools and platform, there’s a professional services component, to take the best practices and solutions knowledge to market as well. The process includes applications assets capture and re-factoring (sort of like IT resources forensics), re-composition, deployment and then proper maintenance. In the bargain, you can gain an enhanced platform, increased automation, and services orientation.

The goal is to harvest all those stored procedures, but target them to newer architectures — from Struts to Spring — and move from client/server to Enterprise 2.0, is a leap-frog of sorts. The re-use of logic then allows those assets to be applied to model-driven architectures and the larger datacenter transformation values.

Nexaweb Advance pairs Nexaweb’s Enterprise Web Suite with automated code generation tools and professional services to deliver a model-driven architecture approach to the transformation of legacy PowerBuilder, ColdFusion, C++, VisualBasic, and Oracle Forms applications . . .

Nexaweb says that their Enterprise Web Suite allows companies to extend and modernize legacy applications, while leveraging their investments in J2EE and services-oriented architecture (SOA) platforms. The company claims that organizations using their offerings have reduced application development, deployment, and maintenance costs by an average of 50 percent.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Gangsta cloud wars could pivot on the traffic-driving power of Google and Microsoft/Yahoo

As Phil Wainewright points out, the platform as a service (PaaS) wars are ramping up with the arrival of Google App Engine. And while there will be preferences around Python or Ruby, stack or ala carte -- there's one ingredient that Google and Microsoft/Yahoo (sure to follow suit) can bring to the table that sets them apart, makes them the kingmakers.

And that is the APIs that will expose the newbie apps to the huge respective audiences already gorging themselves on the cloud's burgeoning offerings -- from search to news to blogs to social networks to videos to maps to weather reports. More services makes it a richer cloud experience, so come on down and sign in, please!

Google and Microsoft/Yahoo are not just functional clouds, they are the long tail channels to the vast online audiences, and they can link the right apps to the right users very well, massively. And they can automate the marriage between a service and a customer by scaling it up to nation-wide exposure, or scaling it down to an audience of one. The more users, the more audience for the apps. The more apps, the more users. And so on.

So you build an application on their cloud and they can bring you massive traffic almost overnight. They can allow for single sign-on to your apps from many millions of users already logged in, already identified by their metadata preferences and attention gestures. The web is great, but the integrated cloud is even better.

The clouds can give you, dear developer/entrepreneur, a tasty share of the revenues chugging out of their respective advertising platform engines. All you creative types, just build out the compelling content, services, apps and media, and together -- you and your cloud provider -- can make beautiful business together.

You shouldn't have to worry about attracting an audience and advertisers. The cloud will do all of that for you. (No need for media companies, either.) You just need to invest your creativity, your business acumen, your attention. The cloud is here for you.

Yes, the PaaS wars will soon munge into the metadata wars. Here's how it works: Developers and media creatives build and post innovative web apps, content and services using the cloud tools, publishing platforms and cloud runtime -- all for free. You can mash up other great services from the cloud ecology to make those apps even better. A favor's a favor.

Then, the cloud will match up your services with an audience that the algorithms know wants and loves these services and content. We already see this with blogs, video, podcasts, social discussions, etc.

It's a great vision except there's also a potential downside: You gotta choose your cloud, your Big Brother. Just like a protection racket, it might turn out. Easy to join, not so easy to get out. One big Family.

And the Family, or cloud entity, can make instant stars of an application or service. The cloud with the best metadata can combine users and content/services. The cloud with the most users and the best data about them wins. It's the new muscle. This is why Microsoft must attain Yahoo, and why Yahoo is right to hold out for more money.

I'm not saying abuse is assured. I'm only saying that the handful of clouds will be hugely powerful. Perhaps more powerful than any mainstream media ever was. And they may not do any evil, may remain a great partner and provide the garden that sprouts a million dazzling businesses and a creative nirvana.

But on the other hand, these goombahs at the Cloud, Inc. may want to make you an offer you can't refuse. But you gotta join da gang, see, and stay close to the home, boys. You know, for protection, from the other Cloud, the other goombahs.

Stick with us, kid, and we'll make you rich, they will say. Don't go to the other side, they are closed and proprietary. See?

Yes, the gangsta cloud wars is what we're coming up on. And you're only going to have a handful of gangs to choose from. And you may well make the choice for the rest of the life of your applications.

Monday, April 7, 2008

As SOA hype turns five, IBM turns to Smart SOA Social Network to bind communities of users

The global WebSphere ecology has trooped to Las Vegas this week for the IBM Impact 2008 conference, with a kick-off rally of sorts in the MGM Grand arena this morning.

I saw Fleetwood Mac here at a Comdex, must have been 12 years ago. IBM has sure done all it can to make this into a "SOA rocks" party. Opening tune from an actual marching band was "Tusk." No frisbees, no doobies, though.

This is a big, big crowd (6000) nonetheless, and clear-minded. Software infrastructure and middleware for the Global 2000 is a huge and fast-growing business, and IBM has had a good time at the trough. But nothing stays the same in software for long, so we need to look for the next chapter.

IBM may not be the fastest mover in the market, but when IBM does move, so does the market. IBM can define software's enterprise direction like no other company. HP may be the biggest IT company be some measures, and Microsoft gets around, but no company is more deeply and broadly embedded in the world's major corporations than IBM.

The goal for IBM has been clear for several years, they want the strategic relationships with the big boys, they want to be Barney in all the best boardrooms: I love you, and you love me.

So let's talk business transformation, deep verticals expertise, and decades-in-the-making interwoven ecologies of products, services, suppliers, partners, and technical experts -- from all corners of the landscape.

On stage first we have (8: 39 am PT) the CIO of Harley-Davidson, Jim Haney. He didn't say much, but nice bike. Now the opening video.

Next some classical music from attractive young ladies, circus performers from the ceiling ... it's Vegas.

"Experience" is the theme from Sandy Carter, IBM's SOA honcho. "Smart SOA" comes in, something relevant to the event, but then ... cut to Drew Carey, now of The Price is Right fame. We'll get a few laughs. Let me try ... How much would you pay for that Z Series running Linux instances to support 347 business services? How about 16 services? Maybe 8?

"I don't know what we're selling here, honestly," said Carey. That drew applause. "Don't buy their stupid SOA, buy our smart SOA." Even more laughter. (8:56 am PT)

Six comediens on stage now, several recognizable. This must have cost big bucks. Smart SOA meets over-budget marketing.

Now up, Robert LeBlanc, IBM's GM Global Consulting and SOA. They did some surveys and found that "change" is the biggest challenge for enterprise executives. How to conduct ongoing business model innovation, how to go global integration, manage talent, and gain "business transparency." These are what concern CXOs, says LeBlanc, adding that SOA is an enabler for the answers. (9:14 am PT)

LeBlanc: "Service oriented businesses" do the "key agility indicators" better. You can better beat the competition using SOA. There are multiple onramps to service orientation. Align business and IT. All this will be supported by industry frameworks and solutions, from IBM. We must do a better job of managing risk.

IBM uses SOA too, eats its own dogfood, and helps them run the global elements, better manage mergers and acquisitions, and manage double-digit growth in BRIC countries. Can your IT handle this need for agility and "transforamitive change"? End LeBlanc.

Harley-Davidson CIO Haney is back. (9:23 am PT). "Service orientation is not about the technology," ... it's about the process and bringing the customer into the process. He describes a Harley social networking app that motorcycle riders can map out their rides. By focusing on process integration, they went to ride experiences, needing events, maps, gasoline stops, etc.

Sounds like a web app mashup to me. End to end process integration allows the company to focus out to the consumer, dealer, supplier, rider. "You create an experience that's richer," says Haney. They show the app, again it looks more like WOA than SOA.

Now Steve Mills, SVP of Software at IBM. Theme remains "Smart SOA" and where they are going next. (9:36 am PT) Gives history of software and SOA. Again, it's about business and not technology, he says. Not much new here, says I.

Business managers should focus on services orientation, while the IT folks focus on SOA. Time to rethink applications, as representations of end-to-end processes. And we still struggle with integrations across applications.

"Smart SOA" (which IBM has trade marked) means "robustness" with added horizontal responsiveness and reach, says Mill. A federated ESB helps a lot in moving the value to extended enterprise activities. In 2008, we are now into the phase of how to scale SOA, using the high-performance ESB (like IBM's ESB).

Mills acknowledges that SOA is difficult to understand, that it's about automating business. SOA helps deliver better services an better returns, he says. End Mills. No news, really. (9:55 am PT)

More comedy routines. So IBM has 6000 people in a room and basically repeats the SOA mantra of past years. Checked the wires, no news there either, at least so far. (10:07 am PT)

Tom Rosamilia, GM IBM WebSphere Software is now up. It's about the business, as long as the technology works, he says. Makes pitch for ESB as core to all the BM products and services. No mention of open source alternatives, which are quite popular, for ESBs.

Rosamilia mentions that WebSphere as an app server brand is now 10 years old. And IBM MQ Series messaging software is 15 years old. And CISCS is 40 years old. Wow.

BPM enables b SOA. "You can do BPM without SOA, but I wouldn't recommend it," says Rosamilia.

IBM's news these days, apparently, are more about such acquisitions as Cognos and Telelogic, both of which are quite large for IBM.

Ah, at least, something new: "WebSphere Business Events" ... combinations of events that can be viewed and analyzed. Not much detail there yet. Business events to be big push for IBM this year, he says. (10:25 am PT) End Rosamilia.

Thomas Liese, strategic project executive for AMB Generali of Italy, now up, presumable for a case study. In a customer service project in insurance, they sough standardization, governance, reusability, automation, and input and output management. Says he saved 50% in total costs for the customer service function by using SOA and ESB.

IBM SOA honcho Sandy Carter is back. She says focus is in customers and best practices. She says a Wintergreen Research study shows IBM has improved its SOA marketshare (whatever that is) is up by 11 percent to a total of 64 percent SOA market share.

The Smart SOA Social Network is announced to connect the customers and allow them to share best practices, news, advancements. This expands communities set up last year for SOA developers and architects. They get 120,000 developers and engineers visiting the IBM SOA portal per month, says Carter.

So the SOA Social Network connects the various communities, sort of like a federated social network effect. The network will be role-based in terms of managing and linking among the groups. This reminds me of OpenSocial, but for building out SOA communities, whether they are on Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, or what have you. This may be large defensive against losing control or access to the community discussions. And it may not be open.

An online exchange built on IBM Lotus Connections will do the binding among and between the current SOA communities, says Carter. Furthermore, a "SOA Jam" will be created for SOA brainstorming on next big thoughts on SOA.

Lotus Connections is not exactly taking over the social networking space, so it will be an uphill road for IBM to carve out its own social networking effect on social networking. This seems very much like when large vendors created their own content portals around such initiatives as SOA, but now with their own social networks.

IBM wants to create the uber SOA and/or enterprise software community. You can use your existing social networks, but the effect may well be that users migrate to the IBM SOA exchange social network. IBM no doubt wants a 64% market share on the communities too.

End of show, 11:00 am PT.

XML-empowered documents extend SOA’s connection to people and processes

Read a full transcript. Listen to the podcast. Sponsor: JustSystems North America.

Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) should dramatically improve the relationship between people, processes, and IT. Yet the potential for SOA remains clouded due to a gulf between worker knowledge and the new services automation benefits, which remain focused on structured data and existing applications.

New advances in documents-based technology, management, and dynamic content enrichment offer a promising lifeline to help solve SOA’s tenuous relationship to people and task-oriented knowledge. For example, the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Maturity Model, co-authored between JustSystems and IBM, offers a standardized approach for technical document authoring and publishing.

We're seeing these two areas -- SOA and newly dynamic documents -- come together. Structured documents and the lifecycle around structured authoring tools provide an end-point for the assets and resources managed through an SOA. But we're also providing a two-way street, where the information and data that comes in through end-users can be reused back in the SOA to combine with other assets for business process benefits.

Our friends at ZapThink recently developed a report and webinar on many of these trends and benefits, as well as best practices.

To help us understand this interesting intersection and the somewhat complex relationship between structured documents and SOA, I recently interviewed Jake Sorofman, senior vice president of marketing and business development, for JustSystems North America. The sponsored podcast describes the tactical benefits of recognizing the dynamic nature of documents, while identifying the strategic value of exposing documents and making them accessible through applications and composite services via SOA.

Here are some excerpts:
A lot of companies will take on this notion of XML authoring from a tactical perspective. They are looking for new and improved ways to accelerate the creation, maintenance, quality, and consistency of the content that they produce. So they embrace XML authoring tools as the basis for creating valid XML, to manage the lifecycle of those documents and deliverables.

What they realize in the process of doing so is that there is a strategic byproduct to creating XML content. Now, it’s more accessible by various line-of-business applications and composite applications that can consume it much more readily.

If you take the documents that users thrive on and make those available to the SOA, and the composite business processes that that architecture is supporting, then you are able to bridge this gap between the people, the process, and the systems.

We’ve been talking about the notion of unstructured content as a target source to SOA-based applications, but you can also think about this from the perspective of the end application itself -- the document as the endpoint, providing a framework for bringing together structured data, transactional data, relational data, as well as unstructured content, into a single document that comes to life.

We provide the ability to embed this application logic within the document format. The document becomes very attuned to its environment, so it can render information dynamically, based on who you are, what your role is, and where the document is within a process. It can even interact with its environment.

This notion of the dynamic documents ensures that what you’re presenting is always an authoritative reflection of the latest version of the truth within the enterprise. You never run the risk of introducing inaccurate, out of date, or stale information to field base personnel.

You start seeing some blurring some between all these categories of technology around information, search and retrieval, semantics, and document management and data integration. It’s all resulting in a much a richer way of working with and utilizing information.

I don’t think that SOA architects have given a great deal of thought to date to unstructured content and how it plays into SOA architectures. So, there certainly needs to be consideration paid to how you get the information in, in a way that makes it rich to describe, reusable, more akin to relational data than documents themselves.
Read a full transcript. Listen to the podcast. Sponsor: JustSystems North America.