Archive for October, 2006

Power Of Process Is Shipping

I provided a dust jacket endorsement for Kiran Garimella’s new book: The Power of Process: Unleashing the Source of Competitive Advantage which is now shipping from Amazon.

This is an interesting title – it’s a work of business fiction that helps explain some of the thinking, language, and acronyms around SOA and BPM in a lighthearted manner. If you are a developer or just interested in technical reading this book is not for you. However if you are a manager, enterprise architect, or another type who needs to either learn more about those topics at a high level or get some talking points to talk to a less technical audience then this book is for you. It’s a refreshing change from a lot of drier technical books and a quick read.

Kiran is also blogging on behalf of his new employer, so also check that out.

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More Thoughts on ESBs and Routers

Todd Biske and Mark both had some meaty comments on my ESB post from the other day – they in fact eclipsed the value of the original post! (Which is great.)

Their blogs are both great reads if you are in market for architecture blogs.

Matt Raible Wins Class Award at CSS

Matt Raible wins the class award at the Colorado Software Summit this week. A big part of the conference are the collective evening Q&A sessions and then breakout BOF (birds of a feather) sessions. There is a bulleting board where people can post BOF topic ideas, and others add their name if they are interested.

On Tuesday someone asked at the Q&A why there wasn’t a general session on Spring this year. Matt’s reponse from the audience was that he has a week’s worth of Spring training material already prepared, and he would be glad to distilll it down and do a Spring BOF / presentation some evening. FIrst round goes to Matt.

At the Q&A last night, there was some discussion around whether the Spring BOF should be on Wednesday or Thursday, with some people from the audience favoring Wednesday. Matt chimes in and says that he originally suggested Thursday because then he can get some copies of his book shipped up to give away at the BOF! Followed by a round of applause…

Sure geeks are suckers for free stuff, but Matt gets bonus points for class. It’s a tiring week already when you are presenting here and he’s going the extra mile for his community. Very cool, Matt.

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Getting to the Hard Facts About SOA

There is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt around SOA these days. Many SOA discussions drift off into the ether due to poor definition or attempts to reify a meme rather than deal in the concrete.

Fortunately some folks are trying to clear the air and get down to the real SOA Facts.

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CSS Bloggers

Here are some other bloggers at the Colorado Software Summit this week that I’m aware of, some are blogging the conference:

Update: How could I forget Ron!

Update 2: And Brian!

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XSLT Is The Skeleton Key for Roach Motels

That phrase dawned on me at some point yesterday during CSS presentations – it seems like the entire world is being configured in XML. Just about any enterprise software and many development frameworks have their configs in XML, I have even started to see benchmarks on apps that included lines of code together with lines of XML – it’s been elevated to a first class citizen in code metrics! But the fact is that it’s becoming less and less runtime config and more and more business logic codification.

So I think that any enterprise developer worth their salt will build and maintain skills in XSLT, XPath, and XQuery. These are not the hot technical skills that will raise your bill rate or necessarily float your resume to the top of the pile. But I think they are going to be seen as core skills before too long. And you just might be the superhero who rescues your team someday when migrating away from a mountain of proprietary XML configs.

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ESBs vs. Smart Routers

I went to a great presentation by Paul Fremantle about building an ESB using Synapse. Paul is a co-founder of and VP at WSO2 and very sharp. He did a great job distilling down the key pieces of Synapse and what it looks like to define service endpoints and do transformations. Synapse deals in various messaging formats like a good ESB, but made the interesting decision to internally treat everything as a SOAP message. If you make a REST call into the ESB, it internally gets wrapped as a SOAP message so you can add headers, reply tos, etc. Probably makes for a more sane server-side model.

But an audience member at the end asked what I consider to be a very prescient question about overlap with capabilities that are continually being added to routers – things like content based routing and filtering. Depending on who you talk to, BPM is supposed to be handled outside the ESB and the ESB should focus on lower level services like routing, filtering, and transformation. I can’t help but think that ESBs are hot for that right now mainly because it’s much easier to innovate and collaborate in the software domain. It seems to me that ESBs are almost commodity out of the gates, and these needs will ultimately be met in the firmware/hardware domain.

Could smarter routers just end up being the deployment node for more elaborate ESB-like routing and filtering logic? Will ESBs (if they are limited to that low level) survive much longer when the hardware can ultimately do it faster?

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Governance 2.0

According to tradition, John Soyring, a VP at IBM, gave the keynote at CSS this morning and did not disappoint. John toured a wide variety of disruptive influences on the current technology market – the first baby boomers turning 60 this year, the voracious appetite that developing economies (China and India receiving key mention) have for raw materials, and all of the * 2.0 disrupters.

He spoke a lot about SOA governance which is of current interest to me, but imagine my surprise when he also brought up long tails as a target of enterprise interest, which is a declared interest of mine. He also covered mashups as a key enterprise intiative, and posited it as the business end of SOA (my words, not his). I was reminded of Brenda’s Office 2.0 podcast.

I asked a question about how traditional enterprise governance practices will need to change from what was needed to manage a portfolio of software assets to practices for managing services and mashup components. John and his colleague David Barnes actually had refreshingly good answers to that. They talked about the importance of managing services for shareability and enhanceability. But they also talked frankly about the fact that mashups are often on the experimental end of the spectrum and that part of improved governance is going to have to be around learning to harvest enterprise-quality assets from the mashup incubators. Embrace the enterprise incubators rather than scold them.

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On the Ground at CSS 2006

I’m settled in at Keystone for this year’s Colorado Software Summit. If you haven’t been before, this is a fantastic developer conference, rich with content and extremely casual. The format is unique: 90-minute sessions and each topic is offered 3 times during the week. So you are hard presssed to miss a topic, though there are certainly enough good ones you just might have to choose at some point.

I’m glad to see some less-than-enterprisey topics like Ruby and scripting on the menu this year; there is always plenty of SOA. But just as great are the hallway and fireplace conversations and the famous evening Q&A sessions. It might not be hard science, but I think the audience polls at the evening sessions are probably more telling than a lot of the “research” in industry mags. It says something when people are willing to trek this far and there isn’t even vendor schwag involved!

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Tagging inside the Enterprise

I pined awhile back about using tagging inside the enterprise. I still think that for a lot of * 2.0 hype, this is potentially a big hit to dealing with the volumes of disconnected content that enterprises never seem interested in gardening cleanly from an enterprise information architecture standpoint.

Then I heard about Connectbeam through a comment on Sandy’s podcast for the Office 2.0 Podcast Jam. This is available as either a subscription service or an appliance for enabling tagging behind the firewall. Good enterprisey features include LDAP integration, which is a must for authorization, and commenting.

Not to take anything away from these good folks, but aren’t there frameworks available yet for tagging so that enterprises can at least start experimenting to build a business case? I haven’t started looking yet, but if anyone knows about Java-based tagging frameworks, I’m all ears…

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