Online Seminar and a Free Book. Be one of the first
to sign up for tomorrow's webcast, and you'll receive a free
copy of my new book. John McDowall (CTO of Grand Central Communications)
and I will be discussing Loose Coupling: Interoperability
for Business Agility, Wednesday 4/30/03 at 10:00am Pacific
time (1pm Eastern). The seminar will also be archived for
The O'Reilly Emerging
"You can tell this conference is bottom up rather than
top down when digerati Esther Dyson and Howard Rheingold are sitting
on the floor in the packed O'Reilly presentation. Could you imagine
Alan Greenspan sitting on the floor of some financial conference?"
Most of the conferences we all attend are about the subjects we
already know, but ETech's multidisciplinary agenda lets you ponder
the future of your own field with the perspective of recent developments
in others. Here are some of the sessions I attended along with links
to the coverage by bloggers and other participants. [O'Reilly
Presentations (with links to summaries and reviews)...
Amazon.com presented an entire day on their web-services
interfaces, AWS. It's no surprise that the vast majority of
developer partners are using the simple REST-style calls rather
than those based on SOAP, and that these developers consider
web services as merely a portal to Amazon.com. Jeff Barr presented
a number of independently developed applications such as Say
Yes, which tells you what songs have recently been played
on your local radio stations, then allows you to buy the CD
from Amazon.com. (No, they don't get a database feed from
the radio stations. Their software recognizes the digital
fingerprint of popular songs by analyzing the radio stations'
Amazon.com is becoming an e-commerce platform rather than
merely a storefront for independent merchants. The coolest
concept is their support of XSLT. You use their web-services
interfaces to manage your dynamic catalog content, but your
"store" can be built using entirely static content.
This means you can run an elaborate store from a very simple
(inexpensive) web-hosting service. You build your site using
XSLT style sheets rather than HTML. Your hyperlinks are REST-style
URLs that include references back to the XSLT files on your
own web server. When an Amazon.com server gets a request for
such a URL, it fetches the specified style sheet from your
server, applies the style sheet to the appropriate content
from the amazon database (which then includes your catalog),
and returns customized HTML to the customer's browser. The
customer's experience is that of a dynamic site customized
to your visual standards, but supported by Amazon.com's back
end. And yet you can do it all with static files.
This approach is particularly interesting for the SME vendors,
and I expect to see other web-hosting services offer similar
support for e-commerce using XSLT and a rendering engine.
When I asked about tools for developing XSLT style sheets,
a few people mentioned Altova's xmlspy,
which apparently has the ability to convert an HTML page to
its XSLT style-sheet equivalent. (If you're familiar with
xmlspy, let me know what you think of it.)
The subtext of the conference was as fascinating as the sessions
themselves. For instance, it seemed as though nearly everyone was
laptop-enabled. Aside from Apple-specific events, I've never seen
such a high percentage of iBooks. (I'd guess at least 65%.) There
were public WiFi access points everywhere, so it didn't make much
sense to spend $16 per night to use the CAT5 connection in the hotel
I was happy enough using my now-antique Vaio Picturebook (PCG-C1VN),
but those iBook users running Apple's OS X were in hog
heaven using Rendezvous
and the Hydra
multi-user text editor. Very cool indeed. My iBook envy is almost
were hot, with a number of bloggers providing near real-time reports
on the sessions. You could sit in one room and know what was going
on in the others. Socialtext
provided a real-time Wiki
that allowed all of us--even those without iBooks and Hydra--to
keep up to date on the rest of the conference.
With all those bloggers, you could count on some controversy, but
it came from an unexpected source. On the first full day of the
Orlowski attacked the conference's submission process in The
Register. Everyone was talking about it, and Tim
O'Reilly came to the defense of the process and of the individuals
involved. Even Dave
Winer (now from Cambridge) decided he had been passed over.
Something to offend everyone!
People and Gossip...
"One of the real treats of these O'Reilly conferences is
getting to meet so many of the people I read everyday. This morning
at breakfast, I was at a table with Glenn
Fleishman, Tim Pozar, Cory
Dornfest, and Doug
Kaye." --Phil Windley
Another lasting impression is the remarkable quality of both presenters
and attendees. It was a literal geekfest. I can't recall ever seeing
in one place so many people that I've wanted to meet and hear. It
was even overwhelming at times. [cory's
photos] And then there were all the amazing people I met (or
didn't) but wish I'd had more time to get to know better: Glenn
Fleishman, David Weinberger, Tim O'Reilly, Clay Shirky, Sam Ruby,
Dan Gillmor, Doc Searls, Rael Dornfest, Adam Bosworth, Esther Dyson,
Larry Wall, Ben and Mena Trott, Eric Bonabeau, Tim Oren, and namesake
Robert Kaye, Mayhem and Chaos
Easily mistaken for one another.
It's a terrific conference. I'll be back next year.
And in other happenings last week...
SOAP for CIOs "...although 86% used XML, only 31% employed
SOAP, 14% supported UDDI, and a mere 3% adopted WSDL." [Source:
Gartner via The Inquirer]
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2003 10:59:57
on Grand Central. Phil Windley tested Grand Central Communications'
services in this review in InfoWorld. It's a real hands-on evaluation,
right down to what Phil expected and what happened instead. He used
simple tools (e.g., SOAP::Lite) on his end, and the evaluation doesn't
address performance or scalability. But it answers the most important
first-round questions: How does this thing work, and how hard is
it to get it up and running? We need more evaluations of web-services
products and services like this. Perhaps Phil and InfoWorld can
team up for others. [Update: Phil tells me more reviews are on the
Posted Saturday, April 19, 2003 5:44:15
ZapThink on Service-Oriented Processes. In his new report ($995) Ron Schmelzer concludes:
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2003 9:01:09
- Service-Oriented Process is Key to Meeting Business Agility Requirements
- Service-oriented process includes orchestration, choreography, composition, workflow, transactions, and collaboration of Web Services.
- The market for Service-Oriented Process solutions will grow from $120 Million in 2003 to over $8.3 Billion by 2008.
- The standards landscape will converge on a single choreography, orchestration, and process flow specification in the next 12-18 months.
- By 2005, over 70% of Web Services implementations will be process-driven.
- Services must be developed devoid of process in order that they can participate in an SOA that meets the goals of business agility
- Service-Oriented Management techniques can assist in managing discrete services as well as end-to-end business processes.
SOAP. I recently linked to an article in Australian IT about
a study comparing the performance of SOAP to CORBA. I received a
message from Chris Kohlhoff, one of the study's authors, suggesting
that the Australian IT coverage might have been less than complete.
On Chris' advice, I downloaded the original
Indeed, the study by Chris and Robert Steele only coincidentally addresses CORBA. Rather, it compares SOAP, FIX (a text-based protocol for capital markets), and CDR (a binary-format protocol). Among their conclusions:
Unfortunately, when evaluating round-trip latency, it appears that Kohlhoff and
Steele only used local (LAN) connections of 10mbps and 100mbps in
which the underlying latency of the link is insignificant. I'd like
to see the results of similar tests using long-haul multi-hop TCP/IP
links of 1,000 miles or more in which the latency of the network can
have a greater impact than the overhead of the protocols.
- The text-based nature of XML is not sufficient to explain SOAP's inefficiency.
- Improvements in the efficiency of SOAP encoders and decoders
may enable its use in high-performance business applications.
- The cost of converting numerical data from to binary--identified
as major by other studies--does not have a predominant role. [They
noted that financial applications--unlike scientific computing--typically
don't use floating-point data.]
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2003 6:06:14
Missing Pieces of Web Services is still new and
therefore somewhat hard to find. (The official publication
date isn't until August.) In some cases, vendors can't keep
it in stock. (We like that case.) In other cases there are
just gaps in the distribution infrastructure. Here are some
tips as of today:
US$27.19, the best price we've seen for U.S. orders
US$27.99, but quotes anywhere from 2 days to 5 weeks
Doesn't have it in stock yet
US$31.99, quotes 5-7 days
Press: US$39.99, direct from the publisher, ships within
(Not the cheapest, but the best source for fast or non-US
Review of the Week:
"Starting Systinet would have been much easier
if I had had access to this book at the beginning. It
really helps to understand the basic principles of Web
Services and SOA."
--Roman Stanek, founder & CEO, Systinet
and Contact Info
The IT Strategy Letter is published weekly by RDS
Strategies LLC. Much--but not all--of the content is published earlier
in Doug Kaye's weblogs.