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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Web Services

Consistent end-to-end Web services management is impossible
without industry-wide standards development. To address this,
the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards
(Oasis) is actively developing the Web Services Distributed Management
specification (www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?
wg_abbrev=wsdm). WSDM defines a protocol for the interoperability
of management information and capabilities via Web services.To resolve
distributed system management problems,WSDM focuses on two distinct
tasks: management using Web services (MUWS) and management of
Web services (MOWS).1
MUWS addresses the use ofWeb services technologies as the foundation
of a modern distributed systems management framework.This
includes using Web services to facilitate interactions between managed
resources and management applications. In particular, MUWS defines how
to describe managed resources’ manageability capabilities using WSDL
documents. Expressing these capabilities enables more efficient discovery
and introspection of resources: because managers typically focus on a particular
management task or domain, they must be able to easily and efficiently
determine a manageable resource’s relevant capabilities.
With MOWS,the WSDM addresses the specific requirements for managing
Web services themselves. In WSDM,Web services are the platform
for providing essential distributed computing functionality, interoperability,
loose coupling, and implementation independence. The MOWS specification
is based on the MUWS specification’s concepts and definitions. As
with MUWS,MOWS aims to build on existing model frameworks to define
a Web service’s management model, rather than reinvent a general
managed-resource object model scheme.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sunday, March 19, 2006

SOA

Solutions based on service-oriented architectures are promising in that they
leverage common services and enable collaborative business processes that cross
organizational boundaries.However, because Web services applications can span
multiple hosts, operating systems, languages, and enterprises, it’s problematic to
measure, control, and manage application availability and performance. In addition
to discussing the relationship of Web services management to traditional
distributed systems management, this survey explores various Web services
management approaches and their underlying architectural concepts.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Going Global?

In a few industries, firms have to be global if
they are to achieve leadership. Computer
makers like Dell or Hewlett-Packard have
cost structures that keep improving with the
increased scale of going global.
Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, or
software companies like Oracle, must sell
globally to amortise their enormous product
development costs. Investment banks are
driven to expand globally because their core
clients operate in all major financial markets
around the world. The profit economics of
these industries are global: in some cases,
their customers respond to a single, global
value proposition; in others, the companies
can capture benefits of world-scale facilities.
Yet, even in an era of liberalising trade
regulation and, some argue, converging
consumer tastes, international expansion is
more often a choice than a necessity.
Winning in food retailing or beer, for
instance, is the result of building market
power and influence at the national or
regional level, not globally.
It’s important to recognise, however, that
international expansion remains a growth
option even when an industry’s profit
economics are not global. In a ‘naturally
local’ industry like mobile phone service, for
example, Vodafone understood the power of
individual country market share. Regardless
of whether a mobile phone brand is global
or local, customers expect service that’s
tailored for their market. Profits accrue first
to the individual market leader, not to the
service provider with global reach. So when
Vodafone began earnestly pursuing
international growth in the mid-1990s, it
first acquired controlling stakes in leading
wireless players in continental Europe and –
for a while – let them be. Each market had
different characteristics and requirements.
Vodafone’s recognition that relative
market share in each country is the key to
profitability allowed its management team
to ride a well-understood strategy into
unfamiliar markets. Gradually, the company
introduced pan-European service contracts,
and began to integrate product
development and branding at the European
level; it also leveraged its purchasing power
with network equipment and handset
manufacturers.
For companies in ‘naturally global’
industries, on the other hand, the world is
one big market. In microprocessors, for
example, companies cannot afford to
manufacture unless they are a certain size.
A new semiconductor fabrication facility
costs Intel several billion dollars to build, and
produces chips that sell mostly for tens or
hundreds of dollars. To earn a return on its
investment, Intel must sell globally. Other
factors reinforce a global orientation. Once
Intel turns on a fabrication facility, scaling up
to increase production adds only
incremental cost. Computer chips are
inexpensive to transport relative to their
value, so there is no particular reason to
locate the ‘fabs’ close to customer locations.
And customers have comparable needs:
Nokia’s requirements for cell phone chips
are not that different from Motorola’s or
Samsung’s.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Teams

It’s hard to understand good teams until you’ve been on both good and bad ones. You can often find frustrated people on good teams and happy people on bad teams: they don’t have enough perspective to see where they are for what it is. Some stars, people of high talent, are poor judges of teams because they’re tempted by the desire to stand out rather than the desire to succeed. Despite this, a common managerial temptation is to hire big talents, challenging the balance of needs for a successful team.

The myth of all star teams

All-star teams lose. While it’s an honor to be chosen to an all-star team, it’s miserable to play on one. These teams are constructed without consideration for how to bring people together. Whenever an all-star team plays a mediocre, but intact team, they usually lose.
The true goal of any team is not to have the best players for each position: it's to succeed. Success comes when a team makes use of the team's abilities towards a goal, something you don’t get merely by picking the best players at each position. It’s a rookie mistake: you can’t hire assuming people will work alone. No one works alone. You have to understand how each person will interact and collaborate with others and choose people that fit (or that create useful tensions that you carefully manage). This may mean passing on the stellar, but volatile, candidate and choosing someone whose skills will both amplify, and be amplified by, the talents of others. Instead of a 3rd star, your team might best be served by an above average person who has skills the stars lack.

I know many seasoned managers that ignore this advice. They believe that if they always hire “the best” the team will sort itself out. This is true, but not in the way they want. Teams will stabilize but not necessarily in a desirable fashion: good people may leave, morale may drop and productivity may suffer. If everyone needs to be the star, they'll fight unnecessary battles over pride. And the more volatile the mix of people, the more work a manager has to do to stabilize a team in the right way. Hiring is only one part of making good teams: someone has to guide each person into a role suitable for their talents and interests, but that simultaneously supports the greater good of the team.

So you do always want stars: provided they are stars that will fit with the team. If you can't find a star that fits the team, you want the best possible person that does fit or you must consider re-designing the team.

We are social creatures. We work harder when we know others are depending on us. Good teams merge self respect with respect for the team. People want to do well not only so they look good, but so the entire team looks good. There is a new kind of pride that is larger than any individual and if it’s done right, it feels better to help the team succeed than it does to succeed alone.

These three things, trust, communication, and pride are obvious in the abstract, but difficult to practice. Any time I’m called in to help a struggling team, one of more of these attributes is in trouble and often the cause leads back to the person that hired me. The blind spot of many managers is their own behavior: they can’t expect their team to develop the right trust, communication skills and pride if they don’t develop these things on their own, in their own lives. Before a manager can ask his team to trust him, he needs to grow and reinforce his trust in them. (And if he himself has never been on a trust based team, it may be impossible for him to create, much less lead one).

We’re all servants to our egos but it’s the talented that have the greatest risk of slavery. If they’re not careful their self image can be constructed around their ability to perform: a shaky foundation for anyone’s psychology. If their emotional lives have no other sources of positive validation they will sacrifice everything, health, friends, dignity, sanity, to maintain their self-image about their work. Many young stars are at risk: they haven’t sorted out yet the difference between being talented and being successful (or happy) and they can become unpredictable when that gap in their psychology is challenged.

The common first traps stars, and their managers, face are to disregard trust and communication in the name of talent. A star may flinch at trusting others since he believes he can do better himself: to trust someone with less talent (in his mind) is to waste his own. Communication and negotiation, hallmarks of good teams, may also put the star in uncomfortable situations where his talent (and his self-identity) is questioned. The trap is sprung as soon as the team leader offers a star a special set of rules. Special rules violate the trust of the team. The focus shifts away from team success to personal pride and the manager must spend time managing egos, instead of progress. Like a brick thrown against a windshield, special rules fracture teams into small dangerous parts, the effects of which can be impossible to repair.

It’s up to the manager to fuel the star’s ego in the same way as the rest of the team: through doing work that helps towards group success. Instead of special rules, the rewards should be based on performance towards goals (defusing any managerial confusion between people they like and people worthy of rewards).
Team rewards
The good manager returns everything to the team: team goals, team benefits, team pride. They find ways to apply individual talents in ways that help the team, carving out assignments that make synergy possible. Every individual assignment is connected, with bright yellow lines, back to a higher level goal for the entire team. The logic is empowering and undeniable. People know why their talents matter: because it helps the team. They see why helping a peer or subordinate matters, not just because it’s nice to be nice, but because it moves the whole team forward. Some necessary individual goals may arise, but the good manager helps people complete them without derailing the larger goals.

Some leaders cultivate rewards for their team by sheer force of personality. If everyone respects him and he cares deeply about the team, they will want to earn his respect and follow his values (their reward is his glowing response to their work). But mediocre and even bad leaders can simulate this effect through organizational rewards. Some percentage of bonuses, raises and benefits should be distributed on the basis of the team delivering on its goals. If the team has committed to finishing the project in 5 weeks, then the whole team should get a reward when that goal is met. Some sports teams give every player a 10% salary bonus for making the playoffs: why should your team be any different?

But do avoid meaningless rewards. Don’t patronize your team. I once worked in a group that gave an award everything month for “outstanding achievement”. There wasn’t really an outstanding achievement every month: we all knew this. But because our manager felt obligated to do something monthly, the awards were given out anyway. And they weren’t tied to goals, had no monetary or symbolic value, and defused the pride we all tried to build. Either do rewards right, or don't do them. If you're not sure what to do, there is nothing easier than a nice team dinner (e.g. Ruth's Chris, not Taco Bell), paid out of the leader's own pocket if necessary, to reinforce the value of the team as a healthy and supportive unit. If money is an issue, throw a good BBQ at your house: people will chip in and help with time and cash if you need it.

Always provide individual and team rewards: if you do it right they should play off each other.

Friday, March 10, 2006

RSS

E-mail marketing and publishing, search engine marketing and optimization, business blogging, internet advertising, digital public relations, branding, e-commerce and others … all key elements of a strong marketing mix.
And yet each of these is often regarded nearly as a separate entity, being driven by different corporate roles and having its own proprietary set of internet tools.
True, there are some tools being used for multiple purposes, but never before has there been a single tool to improve, enhance and power all of them, without prejudice.
But RSS is such a tool. Misunderstood by most marketers, overlooked by many end-users, it has the potential to power the entire internet marketing mix. It is not the solution to all of our problems, but it is the one tool that can have the most profound affect on our internet marketing and business results in 2005 and beyond.
The purpose of this report is to demonstrate just how RSS can help you improve your bottom-line and show you how to integrate it within all of your internet marketing and publishing activities.
It aims to be the showcase of what you can do with RSS and to show you without dispute that there is in fact a strong business case behind the mystified word you’ve been hearing lately.
Learn to use it and learn to take advantage of it. Now, when most other marketers still misunderstand it and do not see clearly how they can benefit from it, is your opportunity.

RSS is a technology that has the potential of overcoming many of the internet marketing challenges we are facing today and becoming a strong, if not preferred, content delivery vehicle.
The simple RSS explanation from the marketing point of view is that RSS is a simple to use publishing tool for marketers and publishers, which allows them to get their content delivered to end-users and other “content consumers”, enabling marketers and publishers to better achieve their business goals.
While achieving not more than marginal penetration, its usage is growing with astounding speed. RSS is already used by the majority of the most reputable media sites, by a satisfactory number of corporations and by almost “all” bloggers.
According to a report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, based on two nationwide phone surveys conducted in the U.S. in November (1861 internet users), 5% (6 million) Americans online consume news and information through RSS or XLM aggregators. Source: ClickZ
RSS is a content delivery channel that allows you to easily deliver internet content to your target audiences (end-users), while eliminating a large part of the external noise and shortcomings of other delivery channels.
In addition, RSS content can be delivered to other websites; such as search engines, specialized RSS directories, special content aggregation sites and other site types. All of this using just one technology …

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

To begin an analysis of John Rawls egalitarian theory of justice one must first understand certain theories, and positions on justice that are key elements for Rawls. First, one must understand the role of justice in a society. Second, an examination of the main idea behind the theory of justice followed by an explanation of two key principles of Justice is necessary. To conclude I will discuss the inherent problem of individuals born into a less favorable social position.

Rawls begins with talking about the role of the principles of justice in a society. As he puts it, these “principles provide a way of assigning rights and duties in the basic institutions of society and define the appropriate distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation.” Justice is highly regarded as a basic virtue in many social institutions. But, as is pointed out by Rawls, if this core role of justice in tainted, the laws of institutions must be changed.

The difficultly here is assigning alternative principles that do not deny the freedom of a few to benefit the greater good. Rawls presents his concept which is based guiding ideas that the principles of justice must be the foundation to which all other societal agreements are based upon. These are principles that establish the essence of the initial position of equality between all members.

A first step in this formation process is to decide which members will decide upon the guiding principles and means to regulate them. After having chosen this justice system, Rawls believes the next logical steps would be to construct a constitution and legislature body; all of which are based of the original guiding principles.

One drawback with this situation is that of members may inherently choose principles that would in affect require the sacrifices of a few to benefit the greater good, or sum of society. To overcome this problem Rawls suggests that two initial principles be chosen. One that assigns basic rights and duties, while the other deals with social and inequalities. Rawls maintains that with concerning economic factors, inequalities are only just if the resulting benefit applies to every member, including the least advantaged members of that society.

Given this information, Rawls presents two principles of justice he believes would be chosen.

[First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for other.

Second: social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all… The Difference Principle.]

These principles given are sequential. This prevents the social liberties given in the first principle from being compromised by attempts to skew economic advantage towards certain members of society and away from others. It is these inequalities that do not benefit all that Rawls believes to be true injustice.

The idea of inequalities have since been thought of as unnatural inequalities or those of birth. That these natural and undeserving inequalities occur in all societies, Rawl takes the argument that they must be compensated somehow.

This principle of redress holds that in order to treat members equally and provide all with the same opportunities, a society is obligated to provide assistance to those with fewer than average natural born advantages. This presents a tough challenge though.

In an honest effort to rectify these inequalities, resources that might have been otherwise directed to society could be diverted presenting the problem of equality for all. This issue of “redress,” as Rawl puts it treads on the first principle set forth to contain the core guiding ideas used to construct all other social institutions.

One solution could be to not directly weigh against Rawl’s first principle. To recognize that there are other general concerns and goals accepted within a society, advancement of the common good, improved overall standard of life within a society; that should be taken into consideration. As Rawl mentions, the social system is not unchangeable. It should, however, stay as true and close to its core principles of justice so as to not lose those guiding ideas through a laundry list of sub-principles.

Rawl clearly breaks down what he believes should be the core guiding principles of a just society. These are designed to assign basic rights and duties and to determine the division of social benefits. But as pointed out, there are inherent challenges along the way. For example, who sets forth these principles in a manner that is un-biased? And what of problems arising concerning out-of-the-box issues like natural born equality issues. The principles of justice presented are a plausible and just system. Ultimately though the success and longevity will be determined by the inborn will of a society and unfortunately time has proven this to not always work to societies best interests.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Up all Night

The attention around individuals or “Whistleblowers,” has taken center stage in the past few years do to huge corporate cover-ups by what were considered industry icons. Corporate scandals such as Enron, and Tyco only enforce the notion of examining whistleblowing in more detail. One must first understand what exactly whistleblowing is and what constitutes the action of. There are two theories presented in Michael Davis’s article Some Paradoxes of Whistleblowing, the standard and the complicity theory. What constitutes whistleblowing differs for both.

Whistleblowing must be justified by one of three constraints. An act may be justified if morality permits it, morality requires one to take action, or the act is rationally required. It is the act one takes in revealing information that would otherwise not be known to other parties. It is the intention someone takes to prevent harm of others. Only a member of an organization in question can be considered a whistleblower. This excludes outside parties whom are actively engaged in seeking out incriminating information.

The standard theory continues this train of thought and defines five conditions of whistleblowing that must be met in order to be considered as such. The first requirement holds that in order for an act to be considered whistleblowing is considered permissible when one believes his organization will inflict harm on the public. The second requires that one has already identified to his supervisor the potential threat to the public and comes to the realization that this person will do nothing to rectify the situation. One would then make use of as many other internal measures as possible to alert others of the potential for harm.

The forth and fifth requirements must be satisfied when whistleblowing is morally required. That is, one would be able to convince an outside party that the threat is real. This leads to the last condition which is that the would-be whistleblower believes that by revealing the threat the harm will be diminished.

Davis identifies three paradoxes with regards to the standard theory. The first paradox is coined “the paradox of burden.” That is sometimes the whistleblower accepts risk to their financial, and personal lifestyles. The second paradox has to do with harm. These harms do not include justice, deception, or waste. The last deals with failure to prevent harm. The standard theory states that one must believe that revealing information will prevent harm, but history has shown that not much harm has been prevented by whistleblowing.

The complicity theory holds that whistleblowers an actively involved in the activity they reveal. Davis sketched what he believes to be the constraints that constitute a moral requirement to reveal something to the public. First that what is revealed comes from one’s job within an organization. Second that one is voluntarily working for the organization. This differs from the standard theory in that the standard believes voluntariness to be not very important. The third condition has to do with if the would-be whistleblower believes the organization is morally wrong. Opposed to the standard theory this does not require harm for justification. Believing that one is contributing to this moral wrong is the forth constraint. Davis points out that this does not mean one believes that if he stops work the wrong will be prevented, but only that one would have contributed to the wrong in the future. The fifth holds that the one is justified in the third and forth constraint while the sixth holds that both are also true.

In the movie The Insider, Jeffrey Wigand is a research scientist who is fired from his employer for objecting to certain lab tests. He signs a confidentiality agreement to ease the company's nervousness but eventually breaks that agreement after convincing from a reporter. Wigand is then recruited by the state of Mississippi to testify on its behalf that cigarettes are, in fact, addictive.

Is this whistleblowing? According to Davis’s complicity theory we have to meet the six constraints mentioned before. Wigand easily satisfies the first two. The information he revealed did indeed come from his former place of work and he was a voluntary member the organization. Although we do not know for certain Wigand’s beliefs, we will assume that he did believe the organization was involved in moral wrongdoings. Continuing through the constraints we find that they are all met, hence Wigand’s acts could be described as whistleblowing.

As briefly shown here, it is not merely enough to reveal any piece of information and consider it to be whistleblowing. There are a number, depending on which theory used, of constraints that must be satisfied in order for the act to be justified.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New collaborative applications are redefining the way companies create and deliver intellectual property to the market. Collaborative software development (CSD) solutions enable engineers, marketers, manufacturers, and service providers to share information and coordinate activities without compromising the integrity or security of the engineering process. New CSD technologies help companies navigate complex market forces, including the drive toward multisite development environments, the diffusion of product development resources, and the proliferation of software.
Current collaborative technologies can be segmented into three environments: free-form interaction, process collaboration, and structured data exchange (see Exhibit 1). CSD solutions deliver process collaboration capabilities. Enabling stakeholders, including internal staff and external service providers, to collaborate in the software development process will determine how quickly and efficiently companies can build customized corporate systems and bring software-dependent (both software-only and hardware with embedded systems) products to market.

Current market conditions demand new software development strategies. The talent and capacity required to create and deliver valuable intellectual property no longer resides within the four walls of the corporate headquarters. Because of growing corporate agility, buyer access to digital information, and demand for mass customization, time-to-market pressures are increasing. Software has become the distinguishing characteristic of effective Global 2000 organizations, enabling them to successfully introduce new products.

Companies must effectively manage diffused software development resources (both people and IP) to deliver effective products to markets and to develop competitive corporate systems. New collaborative applications help companies create and deliver intellectual property to market. Collaborative software development solutions enable engineers, marketers, manufacturers, and service providers to share information and coordinate activities without compromising the integrity or security of the engineering process. New CSD technologies help companies navigate complex market forces, including the drive toward multisite development environments, the diffusion of product development resources, and the proliferation of software.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

AJAX and the RIAs that utilize it will improve usability, productivity, and functionality of both current and new Web-based applications. RIAs bring new ways of interacting with the Web that were previously only available with desktop applications. The resulting web user experiences are richer because the application feels more like a desktop application with regards to responsiveness, interactivity, intuitiveness, and overall usability. These new types of experiences can lead to improved business results because they better satisfy what users are accustomed to, and now have the capabilities to satisfy business operations need. Because no software is installed on the client machines, implementers enjoy dramatically lower costs for application deployment and maintenance while achieving competitive differentiation, increased online revenue and sales conversions, higher customer satisfaction/retention, reduced customer support costs, better performance, and lower costs of IT infrastructure. Imagine taking an installable software program and converting it entirely to a purely web-based service accessible by anyone anywhere with an Internet connection and a web browser. This is RIA and AJAX is one component neccessary to be successfull.