Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dumbass Congress

ZDNet

June 28, 06

The Senate Commerce Committee, splitting 11 to 11 and therefore rejecting compromise language, set the stage for a carrier-controlled Internet. If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the President, you can kiss the Net you know "goodbye." Farewell, open networks and open standards. Soon every packet will be subject to inspection and surcharges based on what it carries and who sent it or where it is going.

The compromise language would have guaranteed that all traffic sent Farewell, open networks and open standards. Soon every packet will be subject to inspection and surcharges.over carrier backbones would be treated equally, regardless of its source or destination. Carriers will be free to target especially profitable traffic for surcharges.

In the Republicans' version of the bill, which will likely be passed, there is a "consumers' bill of rights" (click for the draft legislation) within a new universal service regime based on carrier services that are "as competitively and technologically neutral as possible." Unfortunately, the legislation leaves the definition of what's possible to the carriers. "Broadband service" is defined by the Republicans as "at least 200 Kbps in at least one direction." In other words, anything over 200 Kbps is unregulated territory when it comes to pricing.

I urge you to take a look at the thread between myself and commenter Anton Philidor, who argues in favor of the carrier's position, in this posting from Monday. We were able to approach agreement about what's fair, and it falls within the Net neutrality framework we need to preserve to keep new services flowing over the Internet without carriers forcing new content or Web service providers to pay surcharges.

Carriers are already free to charge for dedicated services. The Internet is not architected on a foundation favorable for dedicated services, which is where the carriers want to ghettoize Web services that won't pay a surcharge for their success. At the same time, the carriers enjoy monopoly or duopoly pricing power at both ends of their network. All the Senate is doing is clearing the way for carriers, which are already very profitable, to make more money without any additional investments in improved services.

If you oppose this framework, take a moment to go to savetheinternet which lets you quickly and easily send multiple emails to your state Representatives and Senators.

AJAX and SOA Combination

I've written a lot lately about the big picture Web 2.0 and the freeing up of the content within businesses through SOA. Now AJAX is a technology that has helped energized the interest from a technology standpoint within the last year for it is the consuming side of the services that are freed up through SOA from the silos and shouldn't be pushed aside with all the Web 2.0 hype. Dan Malks (Photo of Dan Malks. You think he always wears a nametag or is it a reference to "tagging?") of JackBe, is a former Principal Engineer at Sun Microsystems where he was a leader in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) gives one of the best explainations of CLient/SOA and Server-side proxy. Definately worth a read.

What I see? What is my take? Everybody on the server side is focused on freeing up the functionality out of these monolithic applications so you can get business grain services. They can now be consumed by light-weight client models thanks to AJAX. This is why the integration layer I have talked about will be driven by those who are experienced with the client side models. The back-end can do their part, expose the services which they have or are doing so, but they aren't going to be able to create what is truly needed for the consumption because this is not there expertise. The services are moving out farther, the power of the apps as well, to the client so it only makes sense that the driver of this integration will be through the client tier experts and more specifically, those skilled in AJAX. AJAX, SOA, RIA, Web 2.0, Web2.0, Enterprise 2.0

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can't Index

From TheOnion

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—Executives at Google, the rapidly growing online-search company that promises to "organize the world's information," announced Monday the latest step in their expansion effort: a far-reaching plan to destroy all the information it is unable to index.

"Our users want the world to be as simple, clean, and accessible as the Google home page itself," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt at a press conference held in their corporate offices. "Soon, it will be."

The new project, dubbed Google Purge, will join such popular services as Google Images, Google News, and Google Maps, which catalogs the entire surface of the Earth using high-resolution satellites.

As a part of Purge's first phase, executives will destroy all copyrighted materials that cannot be searched by Google.

"A year ago, Google offered to scan every book on the planet for its Google Print project. Now, they are promising to burn the rest," John Battelle wrote in his widely read "Searchblog." "Thanks to Google Purge, you'll never have to worry that your search has missed some obscure book, because that book will no longer exist. And the same goes for movies, art, and music."

"Book burning is just the beginning," said Google co-founder Larry Page. "This fall, we'll unveil Google Sound, which will record and index all the noise on Earth. Is your baby sleeping soundly? Does your high-school sweetheart still talk about you? Google will have the answers."

Page added: "And thanks to Google Purge, anything our global microphone network can't pick up will be silenced by noise-cancellation machines in low-Earth orbit."

As a part of Phase One operations, Google executives will permanently erase the hard drive of any computer that is not already indexed by the Google Desktop Search.

"We believe that Google Desktop Search is the best way to unlock the information hidden on your hard drive," Schmidt said. "If you haven't given it a try, now's the time. In one week, the deleting begins."

Although Google executives are keeping many details about Google Purge under wraps, some analysts speculate that the categories of information Google will eventually index or destroy include handwritten correspondence, buried fossils, and private thoughts and feelings.

The company's new directive may explain its recent acquisition of Celera Genomics, the company that mapped the human genome, and its buildup of a vast army of laser-equipped robots.

"Google finally has what it needs to catalog the DNA of every organism on Earth," said analyst Imran Kahn of J.P. Morgan Chase. "Of course, some people might not want their DNA indexed. Hence, the robot army. It's crazy, it's brilliant—typical Google."

Google's robot army is rumored to include some 4 million cybernetic search-and-destroy units, each capable of capturing and scanning up to 100 humans per day. Said co-founder Sergey Brin: "The scanning will be relatively painless. Hey, it's Google. It'll be fun to be scanned by a Googlebot. But in the event people resist, the robots are programmed to liquify the brain."

Markets responded favorably to the announcement of Google Purge, with traders bidding up Google's share price by $1.24, to $285.92, in late trading after the announcement. But some critics of the company have found cause for complaint.

"This announcement is a red flag," said Daniel Brandt, founder of Google-Watch.org. "I certainly don't want to accuse of them having bad intentions. But this campaign of destruction and genocide raises some potential privacy concerns."

Brandt also expressed reservations about the company's new motto. Until yesterday's news conference, the company's unofficial slogan had been "Don't be evil." The slogan has now been expanded to "Don't be evil, unless it's necessary for the greater good."

Co-founders Page and Brin dismiss their critics.

"A lot of companies are so worried about short-term reactions that they ignore the long view," Page said. "Not us. Our team is focused on something more than just making money. At Google, we're using technology to make dreams come true."

"Soon," Brin added, "we'll make dreams clickable, or destroy them forever."

Shaping Up

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sun Joins Open AJAX Alliance and Dojo Foundation

Sun Microsystems announced their support for the DojoToolkit and the Foundation on June 16th. The PR-flack-processed version is available, but the short story is basically that some of the great engineers at Sun that we’ve had the chance to meet over the last couple of months will have a chance to spend more time hacking on Dojo, and as part of their day jobs to boot.
As part of the Dojo Toolkit project, Sun will be contributing AJAX
widgets, helping with internationalization efforts and refining
documentation. Greg Murray, Sun's AJAX Architect, will be
one of the people representing Sun as a member of the Dojo
Foundation.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

AJAX: Spelled 'AJAX'

For those who don't know already or still debate about the capitalization of AJAX.........

"AJAX is all-caps because it's an acronym, Asynchronous Javascript And XML." ZDNet, January 10, 2006.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Interview with Dan Malks, Deepak Alur, & John Crupi of JackBe

http://sys-con.tv/read/239153.htm
Live from JavaOne 2006 in San Francisco

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Web 2.0 Technology will Rock the Enterprise

Jason Kolb I really like how Jason articulates his thoughts on the whole web 2.0 hoopla, so there is never any need to mess with his text.

There still seems to be a lot of debate about using Web 2.0 technology in the Enterprise as part of the whole "53,651 bubble" discussion about whether this technology is viable outside of early adopters. This is odd to me, because in my previous life as Director of IT for a customer service company I would have been a rabid supporter of these ideas. In fact, I would have been drilling these concepts into my development group's collective heads and making sure they knew how to use the technology.

Since I now build the software for the enterprise instead of use it (except for dogfooding, of course), I thought it might be interesting to put together a list of the reasons why I would have used it. The internal memo I would have sent, I suppose, on why it's a good idea for enterprises to start using these technologies sooner rather than later.

  1. Your users already know how to use it. People already use MySpace, Flickr, Yahoo, Google, etc, etc, etc. You're not trying to force them into a new way of thinking or using software. No matter how smart your engineers know they are, or how complex your application is, using an existing software paradigm is always going to be a huge pro when it comes time to roll out and train. If your users can say "OK, this works just like Flickr, I use it every day--I understand it" then you've already won a huge battle. Consumer-facing Web 2.0 companies spend massive amounts of resources making their technology easy to use, don't think your engineers can come up with something better.
  2. It will take the burden of information sharing off of IT. Ask yourself what generates 99% of the IT activity in a typical enterprise. In my experience, it is primarily born from information--more specifically, people having problems using it, sharing it, getting to it, or generating it. How many help desk requests are sent because people can't access a system, they need logins set up, exporting or importing isn't working correctly (or it's too complex for a secretary to figure out), an FTP site needs to be set up, a report isn't working, or somebody needs the DBA to find an order. Not that Web 2.0 technology will necessarily resolve all of these, but what it does do is provide a coherent, consistent way to find, consume, and share information. And once the technology is in place, it will rarely involve IT for anything. After all, Web 2.0 is all about the users.
  3. The players are actively trying to establish standards. Unless your company is really trying to innovate, and that's usually something reserved for software vendors, IT is a facilitator, and you do not want your people trying to come up with something new. It will, have no doubt, break. Often. Let the companies with resources dedicated to this type of thing do the legwork for you, and have your internal groups use what they produce.
  4. Plug and play collaboration. Standards like Microformats, RSS, and Live Clipboard (mRc, as Alex Barnett coined the term, and I dig it) develop and mature, your users will be able to decide when and where they need systems integration, and "Just Do It". THEMSELVES. I guarantee tears of joy are forthcoming when you see this actually work for the first time.
  5. It's an easy way to get out of the box integration between platforms. Say, your dev team knows .NET, your partner uses Java. Web 2.0 technology (SOA is part of this in my opinion) lets them work on different parts of the same problem and mesh their work together, something that was unheard of five years ago. Add mRc into the mix, and users can start doing the integration themselves.
  6. It forces adherence to standards. There isn't much that forces enterprise development groups to adhere to any kind of standard. I've seen internal development groups churn out so much crap that they fertilize the entire company. However, if you give them the end goal and let them work toward that, the result will be better every single time, guaranteed. The company that has usability standards is rare.
  7. A lot of the legwork is already done. As enterprise software vendors begin adopting these standards, integration between systems is going to become easier and easier. See a post I wrote last week about cutting out the middle ware. As this happens, the work required to integrate data points gets smaller and smaller, and this would have been absolutely earth-shattering to me. We used Salesforce, but prior to their API being released getting data in and out of it would have been an extreme challenge. Not to mention trying to interact with our internal ERP system. Good-bye ODBC, and good riddance.
  8. Instant content. If you're building an Intranet or related site, you instantly have all the content of the Internet at your disposal to work with.
  9. It's the closest thing we have to front end standards. Admit it--internal development efforts suck when it come to usability. It's a rare company that has the resources to dedicate a developer to making the user interface really hum. User interfaces for internal development projects are usually awkward at best, unusable at worst. The libraries that are emerging particularly from Yahoo are going a long way toward standardizing AJAX-style interfaces, and give developers plug and play functionality that they can insert into their applications without building it from scratch. Maybe I should call this one "your users will love you".
  10. It is FREE. As one who spent a lot of time explaining expenses and technology to people who didn't have the background to understand it, this is the biggest pro for me personally. It doesn't cost a dime to start using this technology, but yet you get all of these perks almost instantly. This is one of the few times where you get to have your cake, and eat it too. Put another way, Web 2.0 is open source development.

I'm truly excited about the possibilities in this area. I believe we're on the verge of a software revolution, and it's going to be interesting to see who the players are. The IT leadership of companies will have some interesting choices to make, and those choices will show who the leaders and followers are in this area. Not necessarily difficult choices, in my opinion, but it will definitely reveal who the leaders and followers are in the IT world.

Peter Rip has an interesting related post about what Enterprise 2.0 will actually look like. I think he's pretty well on target with his predictions, especially regarding the permeation of Web 2.0 ideas throughout all of the software a typical employee uses.

Web 2.0, AJAX, SaaS, SOA, Enterprise 2.0, RSS, ATOM, ERP, .NET, Social, Collaboration

The Web 2.0 enabler: SOA

With all the talk (myself included) about SOA, Web 2.0, Mashups, I’m finding myself struggling to accept the correct paradigm. As Jason Kolb says, SOA is a way of building applications so that they are capable of sharing data. REST and SOAP are both protocols for using the services it contains. Web Services are just an implementation, or wrapper, of those services.

Web 2.0 allows other people or systems to interact with the SOA one builds. Web 2.0 is the idea of opening systems and allowing others to use them. Google opened its system, all kinds of Google Maps mashups resulted. Flickr opened their system, and mashups resulted. Amazon opened its system, and mashups resulted. "Mashup", is exactly what it implies--it mashes together two different systems and creates a brand new application using the two (or three, or four).

Web 2.0 for the enterprise is allowing people to use more than one Web app and/or internal system at the same time. Web 2.0 for the enterprise will happen when IT departments begin wrapping Web services around existing systems, and start making mashups using those. I can just see the sales pipeline overlaid on Google maps from here.

What will be really cool is when standards start emerging and the data from those services wrapped around the internal systems can be shared with partner companies, exposing sensitive data. This is going to rock the business intelligence market.

SOA, Web 2.0, Mashup, Enterprise 2.0, Web Services

Friday, June 16, 2006

Web sites get cool with Ajax or die

http://www.physorg.com/news69600460.html

By this time next year, Web sites not developed using the Ajax technique "will simply not be cool enough to use," an Internet analyst said Tuesday." (Ajax is) the latest fashion in Web design," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president of research firm Gartner, at Gartner's annual regional conference in Tel Aviv.

The good news for businesses that want to employ Ajax: "It's no longer just for rocket scientists. A few years ago you needed to invest a lot of money" to create Ajax Web sites, Smith said, "but now there are toolkits available." That makes it the "easiest and quickest attention-getting visual" for a Web site, Smith concluded.

The research firm, noted for its predictions on technology and business, summed up by positing that there is an 80 percent chance that "By 2008, Ajax-style (sites) will be the dominant style for Rich Internet Application interfaces."

But part of the difference of Web 2.0 is that the character of the Internet is changing, according to the company's findings. Users are creating their own content on sites like MySpace, posting their pictures on Flickr, and tagging their favorite Web sites on del.icio.us, Smith said. Things are social and participatory.

Gartner analysts expected most businesses to rush out and try Ajax without effectively utilizing Web 2.0's community, social and user-driven aspects. In this case, "the result (of adopting Ajax and other new technologies like Really Simple Syndication and Mashups) will have minimal business impact," Gartner research said.

His advice to businesses was to get on board -- "Management should lead cultural change by example ... by blogging to the staff. This sends the message that this is the way the company should think."

"Denial is pointless," Smith said to sum up. "Don't just roll your eyes -- this is going to be a really big thing when it all comes together."

"(Web 2.0) will change the way you work, bank, shop and get entertained radically. Again. Really," he said.
Flash FlexJackBe

Web Services, SOAs, and Integration

Today, we’re still in an early phase for Web Services and SOAs. The traditional mindset that needs changing is the view that Web Services are an extension of the component object model. To many developers, Web Services are simply “another interface to a compiled object.” Instead, enterprises should approach SOA as fundamentally a process-driven architecture that leverages distributed processes in addition to distributed Services.

Distributed processes are all about the creation of business processes that in turn depend on other business processes that may be defined anywhere in the organization. Such distributed, SO processes are the key to composite applications that run on an SOA.

Approaching SOAs and Web Services from this perspective simplifies and clarifies many of the troublesome issues relating to distributed computing and Web Services. Today, integration goes from being a troublesome chore that must be accomplished through implementing increasing layers of complicated and expensive technologies. In the SOA world, integration becomes a side effect of process execution. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to create an important business process that does not provide the fundamental benefits of application and business integration. The mere act of orchestrating a composite application achieves most integration goals.

The goals of integration are the same as the goals that business process approaches promise. Businesses today rely on an ever increasing number of systems and services to fulfill their business requirements. As a result, almost every survey of IT department issues has shown that the primary concern of enterprises is integration. Integration, or the ability to connect multiple systems together to accomplish a given business objective, is often very difficult to achieve cost-effectively. Most enterprises need to integrate legacy applications, enterprise systems, data sources, and applications of all sorts within the enterprise. This need to integrate internally is compounded by desires to integrate with external parties such as suppliers, partners, customers, and other third-parties. An often-attempted approach to simplifying integration problems and reducing the cost of integration is the use of common interfaces to application functionality. However, common interfaces are not enough to change the economics of integration. Simply replacing proprietary interfaces with standard, common interfaces just reduces the development cost of having to deal with multiple interface formats. What is needed is a change in the way systems interact with each other, not the particular language or technology they use to communicate.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Human Interfaces to Composite Applications

It’s important to understand the connection between user interfaces and process-based composite applications in the context of SOA. The business process world makes a distinction between process and workflow, where process is automatic, while workflow involves people at certain points. In reality, however, there’s no such thing as a business process that doesn’t involve people. In fact, the illusion that business processes can be entirely automated is
contrary to the agile nature of SO computing. The fact of the matter is that IT exists to meet human needs, and thus people are an integral part of the processes that IT enables. In other words, the human interface to composite applications is not an afterthought, but rather a key
feature of the architecture. Furthermore, people do not work in isolation. Business relies upon teamwork, and teamwork requires collaboration. Client interfaces to composite applications must therefore be inherently collaborative. The business benefits to taking an SO approach to composite application creation and use are broad and deep. For the entire fifty-plus year history of business computing, IT has put limitations on the business. Technology has been both empowering as well as constraining, because of its fundamentally brittle, inflexible nature. Service Orientation promises to change that fundamental fact. Companies who build and run agile SOAs that support flexible composite applications with rich user interfaces will find that business will finally drive the technology, rather than the other way around.

Lowering TCO with Composite Applications

The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a solution must take into account the initialand ongoing costs of the solution, relative to the solution it replaces. Composite applications based upon SOAs can lower TCO in several ways, including:
  • Managing the Services in an SOA is less expensive and complex than managing the interfaces in a traditional integration solution.
  • By leveraging the Web Services standards, composite applications lower the cost of proprietary technologies. Standards both level the competitive playing field for vendors, lowering prices generally, and also simplify the task of integration, lowering costs directly.
  • Business analysts and technical business users are able to compose applications without the involvement of more expensive IT personnel.
  • The more complex a business change is, the more effective SOA-based complications are at reducing the TCO of the solution, because of their inherently flexible nature.

Fundamentally, SOAs provide business an “agility quotient” – the more complex the underlying infrastructure and the more dynamic the business environment, the greater the benefit of an agile architecture to the business. SOAs provide the ability for business users to compose applications, thus creating and managing business processes. However, there is one important piece missing – the user interface itself. If the tools that users interact with are not agile themselves, the benefits of composite applications to the enterprise risk being lost.

Web 2.0: The Evolving Definition

Everybody seems to be focused on the “social networking” aspect of Web 2.0 which is fine with regards to the general public and smoother collaboration with in organizations. But there is a collection of attributes that have a technology dimension aspects that will ultimately convert the Web 2.0 benefits into real business value drivers for the enterprises plus enable the capability of the social aspects.

  • Technology-related attributes: These include technologies commonly associated with Web 2.0, such as Ajax, RSS, REST, microformats and public APIs.
  • Non-technology attributes: These include data-related concepts, such as user-contributed content and user-generated metadata, as well as those relating to the process and the business model: greater openness, transparency and decentralized user participation.

Web 2.0 has the potential to deliver business value, improve competitive position, help tap new markets, and optimize business processes. Competitive advantage can be gained by cultivating an ecosystem or community that gains in value (through the "network effect") as it accumulates participants. The challenge for organizations is that the attributes of Web 2.0 that can most produce these positive effects are also the ones that are most difficult for organizations to adopt. Unfortunately the Web 2.0 attributes that seem to be getting all of the attention these days— and that organizations can adopt with minimum disruption — are also the ones that, by themselves, can have only a limited impact in the underling business valuation.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AJAX and the Enterprise 2.0

I've talked before about my take on Web 2.0 and how it is more than just all the hype about collaboration and/or the Social web. The true power of what the world is about to witness lies in the integration and composition of web services exposed through a service orientated architecture (SOA) to go beyond simple TCO issues, but rather to open an organization to new markets and opportunities that would have never have been possible without. See my short post on IaaS as I like to call it. Enterprise 2.0 to me is about the ability to push control of the systems out to the client. These new enterprise applications add their value at the client tier and AJAX does this by being an enabling technology.

The big picture is Web 2.0: We are seeing the freeing up of the content within businesses (SOA) like we have seen the freeing up of content on the web in general. Currently, for those who haven't embraced SOA, information is locked in the enterprise and cant always share it.

Now with the next generation web/ web 2.0 there are new ways people are generating content and filtering the content. The best way to do this is letting lots of people contribute and then selecting the relevance of this content differently by tagging or the like. This whole approach is just now gaining acceptance, or even notice, in enterprises and will be ever increasingly relevant within these organizations. AJAX is a technology that has helped energize the interest from a technology standpoint for it is the consuming side of the services that are freed up through SOA from the silos.

So now you have all these services trapped inside a monolithic application with a ton of functionality within a business that is only available to specific chunks tied to the mono architecture. There is yet to be a true agnostic, lightweight platform to consume and integrate these services. There are many small vendors out there that claim to "build composite apps" but after researching about a dozen of them I inevitably always am disappointed the deeper I dig. Most confine you to an ecosystem or a proprietary standard that is not interoperable. Others claim the ability to consume and build composite apps but really when you question them all they are doing is combining "composite presentations of various data sources." Not what I consider an application. So be weary.

So who is going to usher in this Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 or now even SaaS 2.0?

Everybody on the server side is focused on freeing up the functionality out of these monolithic applications so you can get business grain services. They can now be consumed by light-weight client models thanks to AJAX. This is why the integration layer I have talked about will be driven by those who are experienced with the client side models. The back-end can do their part, expose the services which they have or are doing so, but they aren't going to be able to create what is truly needed for the consumption because this is not there expertise. The services are moving out farther, the power of the apps as well, to the client so it only makes sense that the driver of this integration will be through the client tier experts and more specifically, those skilled in AJAX. Check out the JackBe's management talks at events like JavaOne and RealWorld AJAX. They have this vision in mind and are working towards it.

Web 2.0 SaaS 2.0 Enterprise 2.o Next Generation Platform IaaS Integration as a Service Composite Applications AJAX SOA Social Collaboration Mashup

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Need for Intermediation with SOA

Businesses, across all sectors and geographies, are under significant pressure to more closely align IT systems with business processes to improve business agility. This is driven by business imperatives to increase operational efficiency, to react more quickly to the needs of customers, partners and suppliers and maintain competitive advantage. To become more agile, enterprises are moving towards a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to build, maintain and integrate business applications and better leverage IT systems and infrastructure.
One of the highest priorities for CIO’s is the ongoing need to simplify business integration while reducing development and maintenance time and costs. And with the advent of SOA, the challenges of integration are even more complex and the limitations of traditional application development and integration solutions are even more problematic.
The agile enterprise must react more quickly to business change with IT solutions that are better, faster and cheaper than “the old way” of building and integrating applications. The requirement is no longer to automate a single business function from the ground up, but to assemble applications using parts of existing business applications and enterprise systems. Organizations are now beginning to think about applications in terms of business services rather than lines of code. Developers need to map service definitions regardless of the details, location, or programming language associated with enterprise data resources. Data and services must be reusable and easily accessible. And applications need to be detached from the underlying systems and infrastructure for increased adaptability and ease of maintenance.
To achieve the goals of the agile enterprise, IT departments are moving towards the rapidassembly and deployment of composite applications. To achieve this, there is a new set of requirements. Applications must be:

• Dynamic. Automated, real-time updates to applications
• Adaptive. Separate application logic from infrastructure
• Configurable. Maximize reusability and reduce coding
• Productive. Easily update and maintain applications
• Transactional. Maintain performance in high-volume environments
• Scalable. View and manage 1000s of services at one time

The adoption of Web Services and SOA will be increasingly rapidly throughout 2006 and into the next year. 2007 will be the year that enterprises will be significantly investing in these new architectures. However, the challenge is much more complex than assembling a few Web services. 70 to 80 percent of all mission-critical business data is stored in hard-to access mainframe and legacy systems. One of the most critical challenges businesses face is not only how to migrate to SOA by integrating data with services to but to put a face on these exposed services to enable the user to easily develop and deploy composite applications.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What SOA and Web Services Can Add to AJAX

By: Mohit Chawla; Manivannan Gopalan
Jun. 9, 2006 01:15 PM
Sys-Con Brazil

AJAX has given a new lease on life to the presentation layer just as Web services have given a new lease on life to the application layer. AJAX is a UI model. It's important in the sense that it allows people to use their browsers to directly interact with Web services; it's the best way for people to get at Web services and SOA assets. Currently, Web services perform well on a machine-to-machine level, but there have been problems building usable interfaces to interact with services. AJAX will be the answer to that problem.

AJAX communicates through XMLHttpRequest. XMLHttpRequest helps communications between HTTP servers through XML. From the client side of the application, instantiate XMLHttpRequest and, through its methods, issue an HTTP command such as GET or PUT to the Web server. Through the XMLHttpRequest object you can now easily implement a Web service. Client code invokes them via HTTP, where they accept and return XML code. On both sides of the connection the XML code is managed and traversed.

AJAX is a user interface model and Web services is a back-end functional layer mechanism. AJAX is very helpful in handling multiple Web services where there is a need for updating part of the user interface.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Study: Alligators Dangerous No Matter How Drunk You Are

May 10, 2006 | Issue 42•19

BATON ROUGE, LA—In a breakthrough study that contradicts decades of understanding about the nature of alligator–drunkard relations, Louisiana State University researchers have concluded that people's drunkenness does not impair the ancient reptiles' ability to inflict enormous physical harm.

"Our data strongly indicates that human intoxication does not transform an alligator into a docile creature that enjoys wrestling," said professor Ryder McCrory, chair of the Wildlife Taunting Department of LSU's prestigious Center For Bullying And Hazing Studies. "Despite its slow-witted demeanor and tendency to bask motionlessly in the hot sun, it's a mistake to believe that an alligator will passively tolerate a half nelson, no matter how much Southern Comfort is fueling it."

McCrory said the study yielded statistics that speak for themselves.

"In 10 out of 10 documented cases of violent alligator–drunkard encounters, the reptile was not influenced by the fact that the victim was 'just kidding' or 'just having some fun,'" McCrory said.

To an alligator, McCrory explained, a human forearm, even drunkenly dangled between the creature's casually opened jaws, still appears to be prey.

In field experiments, members of the control group performed no better-—and often far worse—than their sober counterparts in defending themselves against a 300-pound, seven-foot bull alligator. Even when armed with an empty tequila bottle.

What Aren't CIO's Getting, But CEO's Are?

Sandy Kemsley ranted about the results of a CIO Insight survey last month that had a significantly large number of polled CIOs and senior IT execs claiming that various bread-and-butter Web 2.0 technologies and collaboration apps such as AJAX, Wikis, Social Networking (tagging, etc.), RSS, etc. were of 'no interest" or "not on the radar screen." She briefly highlights a few on her post, and if one looks at the whole thing in aggregate, the no interest/not on the radar numbers are appalling and should give the Web 2.0 pundits some pause about the speed in which organizations are 'racing' to Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 or whatever we want to call it this week. SOA and SaaS fare a bit better percentage-wise...like a third of the polled don't have it in sight. And before anyone wants to take potshots at CIO Insight, this is one industry magazine that does a really nice job presenting reality in IT and their surveys are well done, so I am swayed by their numbers even though, like Sandy, I'm not real happy about the results.

Now, let's contrast these findings with what Ross Mayfield reports and comments on with respect to Business Week's Guide to Enterprise 2.0 that recently published. The guide and Ross' commentary would lead one to believe that the concepts are beginning to be enthusiastically embraced and we're potentially on the throes of a business revolution on the scale of outsourcing and globablization. Other Web/Enterprise 2.0 proponents have been routinely pounding the adoption-today drums as well.

My take? As Sandy argues, there continues to be a lot of scared, control-freak, "dinosaur" CIOs out there given the CIO Insight results. I really have to wonder how 'enlightened' their CEOs are to all of this potential sea change - and emphasis on 'potential' because from where I'm sitting, the 2.0 changes and shifts will definitely happen and reshape the enterprise, but not as fast as some folks would have you believe. It's really odd to me that CEOs get enlightenment on this (or are portrayed to be by VCs, journalists, and interviewers), while their CIOs appear to be on a one-way train to Luddite-ville.

Anybody ready for CIO 2.0? Because it looks like a few heads need to roll or go to retirement-land before Web/Enterprise 2.0 makes huge splashes in the enterprise anytime in the near future - not isolated incidents, but the huge paradigm shifts that occured with outsourcing and other concepts over the years.

Robert McIlree
June 10, 06'

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Integration as a Service (IaaS)

As business applications evolve, an increasing number of businesses are embracing using applications they don’t control or host – applications they leverage through the platform of the Internet – and that they purchase on-demand and as a service. Companies must become more agile and work together to remove costs from the value chain to reduce friction. This will improve the overall efficiency the overall value chain that can either increase margins or reduce prices to the consumer. This is a growth strategy rather than a cost reduction strategy. To be able to not just expose services through SOA, but to be able to reach-out to previously untapped markets by integrating or consuming these services through a agnostic platform. The value chain is composed of heterogeneous systems that need to be integrated. This is where Integrator solution providers come in.

On-demand IT service-oriented architecture (SOA) where IT system and application processing is defined and developed as a set of services that can interoperate and exchange information with each other. The SOA offers a flexible approach to application development that encourages service re-use and reduces the need to build point-to-point connections for data and application integration. SaaS 2.0, as they see it will incorporate advanced SOA and business process management technologies to provide a next-generation business management platform that competes with, and in many cases, replaces, traditional enterprise applications

Mike Wagner, May 25th, 2006

The 80/20 rule of SOA service reusability

by Joe McKendrick
ZDNet
The main value of SOA is reuse. Build once, use often. So it can be assumed that any services you build and deploy should be reusable across the enterprise, or whatever other sphere you work in — or else you're not getting your money's worth, right?

Well, it depends, advises ZapThink's Jason Bloomberg.

Depends on what? SOA is all about reuse, right? Or you may as well just run a proprietary application for the same amount of expense.

The answer depends on whether your SOA is being built in a top-down or bottom-up fashion, Bloomberg says.

If your SOA effort is a top-down approach, reuse may not always be the number one priority. If your SOA is developing from the bottom up, reuse may add some value to the top 20% of applications getting the most usage.

In the top-down approach to SOA, business processes are decomposed with an eye toward identifying areas of redundancy. However, Bloomberg says there are more pressing priorities in a top-down scenario, such as the "evolvability" of services — their ability to adapt to changing business requirements. In addition, reusability may essentially be irrelevant in B2B scenarios, since the goal there is getting two disparate systems to talk, Bloomberg says.

With the bottom-up approach, however, the goal of SOA is to expose existing IT capabilities. Here, a good rule of thumb to apply to reusability is the 80/20 rule, which states that 20% of the existing functionality in any given system will be used 80% of the time, says Bloomberg. Worry about reusing that top 20%. "The remaining 80% of the functionality handles special cases, exceptions, and other low-use scenarios."

Bloomberg observes that "while the greatest use doesn't necessarily mean the greatest reuse, service-enabling that 20% is likely to lead to the greatest level of reuse as a rule of thumb. Clearly, if an architect can identify the 20% of existing IT systems with the heaviest use, service-enabling that portion of your functionality will provide the business its biggest bang for the buck."

Here, "composability" is also the key, Bloomberg says, putting it this way:

"A service would clearly be very reusable if there were a million service consumers out there making regular use of the service — and that would be a good thing, to be sure. But that service may not be composable if business users aren't able to find a way to incorporate it into composite applications that implement service-oriented business applications (SOBAs). If a service is truly composable, therefore, then the business should be able to find many ways to compose that service into different SOBAs. Such composability is where the true business value of SOA lies."

IBM's SOA chief promises tighter integration

IBM's SOA Foundation is said to be an, "integrated, open-standards-based set of software, best practices and patterns for Service Oriented Architecture." Yet products in the Foundation come from its Rational, WebSphere, Lotus and Tivoli software groups, and competitors like to argue that while IBM indubitably has breadth in SOA, it lacks an integrated suite of products.

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While Carter argued that integration between the products in the SOA Foundation is, "already as tight as any of our competitors", she conceded: "Is everything in the SOA Foundation integrated? Everything is not."

"Do we have some gaps?" Carter continued. "Yep, but we know what they are and we are working on them." Asked whether IBM will come out with a SOA suite, she said: "You will see us more tightly integrate the SOA Foundation, and maybe more."

Indeed one of the reasons that Carter's role as IBM's SOA head was created in September of last year, was to have a single point of contact to ensure integration and interoperability between the many products that it believes are required to underpin SOA projects.
Carter said that IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano has issued what she called a "double-down bet" on SOA, making it a key strategic objective for the company. She said it also means she has a budget of $1bn to spend on SOA R&D each year, and the firm has established a channel of 2,500 partners who can help with customers' SOA projects, as well as dedicated SOA sales teams.

There are 28 products in all under IBM's SOA Foundation. These go from the Rational Software Architect and WebSphere Business Modeler for modeling business services, through WebSphere Integration Developer to assemble those services.

In the deployment phase products suggested include WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere ESB, and finally at the management phase products include WebSphere Business Monitor, Tivoli Composite Application Manager for SOA and Tivoli's Access and Indentity Manager products.

By Jason Stamper
Computer Business Review Online

Friday, June 09, 2006

AJAX / SOA JackBe Blog Site Open for Business

It seems that the benevolent J2EE/SOA former SUN team (Deepak Alur, Danny Malks, John Crupi) have started blogging with their new employer JackBe. For those who don't know they are all co-authors of the popular Core J2EE Patterns book and now are lead developers/Visionaries at the AJAX solution company JackBe. The JackBe blog site with links to all of their individual site can be found here. Definitely worth bookmarking to keep abreast of what's happening in the AJAX/SOA convergence space. http://www.jackbe.com/blogs/

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ajax Approaches Abound: Which One Is Right For You?

by Dion Hinchcliffe
Sunday, 4 June 2006
http://web2.wsj2.com/

I’m [Dion Hinchcliffe] in New York City getting ready for the Real-World Ajax seminar tomorrow morning for a talk I'll be giving on Ajax design elements. I've been thinking a lot lately about the various approaches to developing Ajax software and trying to construct an intellectual framework for evaluating them. Clearly, a large amount of online software in the future, both SaaS and Web 2.0 (and yes, there's a difference) will be developed using Ajax. And figuring out which direction to take for now is actually getting harder right now, not easier.

That's because options for creating Ajax software are still growing rapidly and run the gamut from incredibly powerful platforms such as Microsoft's Atlas, to declarative specification appraoches such as those used by Backbase and Laszlo. On the micro-Ajax side , there's the lightweight, mostly blendable frameworks and widget bundles such as Dojo and Script.aculo.us. Then there are the translation approaches that let you create Ajax software in a more traditional programming language, which tend to have more robust tools for development, testing, and debugging. Google's GWT and Morfik are two such examples of the latter.

All of these approaches and tools have their various merits and a few drawbacks as well. With the advent of the term still not much more than a year old, industry interest and use of Ajax is surprisingly widespread (witness the virtual onslaught of books, development tools, actual Ajax software, conferences, and more). Yet we're really still in the tail end of the pioneer stages with Ajax. And we know that pioneers tend to be the ones with the "arrows" sticking out of them. This means buying down development risk is key while the next generation of Ajax best practices and techniques are identified and commonly understood.

Then there's the issue that browsers just aren't as capable computing platforms as formal operating systems. This gives us the important constraint the creating great Ajax software still requires above average architecture, design, and development skills. As I've written before, Ajax isn't for Web designers (yet), and requires some assistance from a server development team as well to build (or increasingly, find) usable Web services that will do what's needed.

When I talk to folks about the basic elements of Ajax and try to convey a sense of the common techniques to apply it effectively and build great software with it, I also try to explain that a little real engineering is required if one paints outside the lines of a growing number of Ajax application blueprints. Fortunately, we are starting to see products and approaches that are reducing the need to build an Ajax application by madly cobbling together a bunch of frameworks and code snippets found out on the Web.

So, stubbing your toe with Ajax is still common. It's very easy to do something that makes total sense in the browser but brings the server to its knees unexpectedly for example. Furthermore, Ajax applications tend to have more moving parts and dependencies, making maintenance and management a bigger issue that it ever was with HTML-based applications (which aren't going away any time soon either.) Having to be a good Web (or intranet) citizen is something that doesn't happen overnight, but through experience. Ultimately, this means that there will probably be an short-term increase in the failures of Ajax projects as less experienced Web developer shops begin take it seriously and try to do bigger and more complex applications.

Fortunately, for the long-term, there seems to be a great deal of investment in Ajax development techniques and supporting tools for development, design, testing, debugging, maintenance, and management. Soon Ajax will become just another capable client software technique in the developer's toolbox, albeit one that's special because it represents the first true Web-only software platform.

Recently Unearthed E-Mail Reveals What Life Was Like In 1995

KNOXVILLE, TN—A 1995 e-mail extracted from the hard drive of a recently unearthed Compaq desktop PC offers a tantalizing glimpse into the day-to-day life of a primitive Internet society, said the archaeologists responsible for its discovery.
"We're very excited by this find, because only by understanding our e-mail past can we hope to understand our e-mail present and future," said Northwestern University archaeology professor Lane Caspari, who has been leading the dig through the equipment storage area of a Knoxville-area credit union since late April, on Tuesday. "The discovery also sheds new light on the 1990s—an era we know very little about."

Written by a "scully666@compuserve.com" and addressed to a "makincopeez@prodigy.net," the writer expresses the ancient equivalent of boredom, asks the receiver about his or her status in their primeval office environment, then refers to the act of sending the e-mail itself.

"Nothing going on," begins the e-mail. "What's up with you? Are you going to Mike's b-day thing on Friday? I'm thinking about it. I might go, but I'm not sure yet."

The e-mail continues, "Let me know if you get this e-mail twice. I'm still trying to learn the system. I think the managers know when we're on the Net, so I'll stay away from the web surfing and check my e-mail only once a day."

The e-mail is signed only "K." It contains no subject line.
"This clearly points to a reverence for the technology, but also an intense anxiety about a power they could not have understood," Caspari said. "It's safe to assume that 1995 was a terrifying and confusing time, and they must have struggled to make sense of it all."

While much work remains before researchers can hope to illuminate the secrets of the ancient and mysterious period of the late '90s, they say the discovery itself is an important milestone in understanding human history.

"Listening to the whir of the disc drive and watching the blink of the cursor, we glimpsed, for a moment, life through a completely different set of eyes," Caspari said. "But, in the end, we realized have more in common with our shadowy ancestors than we might like to think."

May 30, 2006 | Issue 42•22
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/48970

Saturday, June 03, 2006

JackBe's John Crupi


What the #$@%? What are all these other AJAX vendors doing? And where am I? This isn't Sun.
(Note: Not a quote from John Crupi)

(This is)
"While big strides have been made in Web-based applications, we envision a future that promises far bigger and better things for organizations that invest in AJAX and SOA technologies," said JackBe CTO John Crupi. "JackBe's comprehensive product set, methodology and approach, plus our successes working with many large organizations, position the company as a significant player in this market."

What is the next generation of SaaS? SaaS 2.0, Web 2.0, Composite Appliacations, or IaaS?

"With the resurgence of SaaS or at least the next stage in evolution of it, some are confused about the direction and or the definition of said stage. Some call it next-gen platform, SaaS 2.0, On-Demand, Integration as a Service (IaaS) . The market will decide upon a name. But what will this name represent? Just as SaaS used to be called ASP, I think IaaS or SaaS 2.0 could be best explained by revisiting what composite applications are all about. That is really what everyone is talking about. The integration of atomic web services through a (hopefully agnostic) platform that doesn't sit on the server or client, but is not middleware. This is the future of Enterprise applications or Enterprise 2.0. This is the driving power of the concept of web 2.0. Finally utilyzing the services that can be exposed through SOA." Mike Wagner

"Composite applications" may be a new term for some, although the concept was first named by Gartner in December 1997. Old idea or new, the principles of composite applications are important to most enterprise software projects and to most business software vendors. A poorly designed composite application can endanger the performance and integrity of established production applications. A well-designed composite application can help enterprises reduce costs of IT services and improve time to market for new IT initiatives. For most enterprises, the composite-application style is not a choice to ponder, but a reality to make the best of. Gartner research in this Spotlight is a must-read for most engineers, designers and architects involved in the planning and development of business applications.
A composite application is an application (typically, an interactive user-facing application) that draws on resources of other applications to complete its work. Such an application looks to the user like a regular new interactive application, yet in reality it may be only 10 percent new and 90 percent an assembly of pre-existing (purchased or in-house "legacy") components or data. The "glue" that brings a composite application together is always integration technology. Composite applications are a style of application integration. Composite application projects, along with other integration projects, should be managed with the participation of the integration competency center.

Well-designed composite applications are heavy users of service-oriented architecture (SOA). This affinity draws composite applications into the current industry hype. Many promises and vendor demonstrations are given for SOA, using assemblies of homogeneous Web services. Although these simple assemblies are easy to demonstrate, they are not composite applications. Only assemblies that engage multiple applications and thus require integration of distinct data models are composite applications. Simple homogeneous assembled applications do not deliver most of the benefits of integrated composite applications, nor do they carry their risks. Beyond the hype, the real composite applications require careful design and planning. The effort is often worth it because benefits of composite applications can be great — but rumors of the simplistic "point and click" production of composite applications are highly exaggerated.

I forsee a convergence of AJAX and SOA players that meet somewhere in the middle but are not middleware. Exiting times are upon us.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Did SAP Get the AJAX Memo?

By: Roger Strukhoff
Jun. 2, 2006 07:00 AM
http://in.sys-con.com/read/230274.htm

It has now been very well-documented, by SYS-CON and by others, that Ajax was the big story at the recent JavaOne 2006 Conference in San Francisco. But during that same week, a continent away in Orlando, Ajax was seemingly nowhere to be found at SAP's Sapphire '06 event.

A look at dozens of Sapphire-related announcements, from SAP and several of its technology partners, finds nary a mention of Ajax. Although SAP exec Shai Agassi (pictured) told an Australian IT publication recently that "we've opened up our enterprise services repository so that users can program in any language -- Python, Ajax, Ruby on Rails, etc. We're not going to get into religious battles," it seems certain that members of the SAP customer base are not likely to be early adopters of Ajax when it comes to messing with their websites.

One industry CEO whose company does a lot of work with SAP told me that he thinks the Ajax approach is "simply not suitable" for a range of complex applications. He said he thinks instead that the potential of SOA is nowhere close to being realized and that serious IT infrastructures dealing with both the promise and complexity of SOA design, development, and deployment shouldn't be distracted by Ajax at this point.

In a similar vein, an IT analyst who has built his career within the traditional IT world said he thinks Ajax "provides nice decoration" but that "it should hardly be considered to be the main thing, or even a main thing, that's important to the industry right now."

For its part, Sapphire '06 was focused on helping SAP customers "take advantage of the right IT solutions to help accelerate business innovation and fuel profitable growth." Its Enterprise SOA track featured sessions with titles such as "Ensure Continuous and Effective Business Operations to Get Ready for ESA," "Explore the New Preconfigured Enterprise Services Environment from SAP," and "Accelerating Business Transformation Through ESA/SOA." Sapphire '06 also had tracks devoted to NetWeaver, ERP, and Composite Applications, among others. There was no Ajax track.

SYS-CON is, of course, producing SOA Web Services Edge in New York June 5-6, where speakers and attendees will gather to debate various aspects of the still-emerging SOA approach to enterprise IT. The event has three tracks devoted to SOA and Web Services, with specific session topics including "Why Successful SOA Requires a New Way of Thinking," "The OASIS SOA Reference Model," "The ESB Delivering SOAs," "SOA Using Flex, Flash, and ColdFusion," and "When Ajax Isn't Enough."

But in order to deliver information to those seeking all points of view, this event is colocated with the Enterprise Open Source Conference and Exposition, and there is also a two-day, single track Real-World Ajax Seminar. (Information on all events can be found at http://events.sys-con.com.) And it's important to note that one of the sessions during the Real-World Ajax Seminar is entitled, "Focusing on the Architecture in Ajax," to be presented by JackBe's John Crupi, who told us in an earlier interview that he will take attendees through a four-step process that "goes way beyond" that first, decorative level often criticized by Ajax debunkers.

Meanwhile, one could look at the JavaOne San Francisco/Sapphire Orlando duality and see an emerging "red-state, blue-state" debate within the IT industry. But this being information technology, the situation will never be quite that simple.

If you're looking for a true polarized political debate, think pro-Microsoft/anti-Microsoft. Whose side are you on, mate?

The SOA and Ajax discussions seem more like some people arguing about what wine goes best with what food versus others who don't really like wine and think that the food itself is far more important. As the story plays out, one can guess everyone will eventually sit at the same table, though.

JackBe's John Crupi Urges Discipline with AJAX in the Enteprise

http://ajaxdevelopersjournal.com/read/228752.htm
By: AJAXWorld News Desk
May. 31, 2006 07:30 AM

JackBe CTO John Crupi will be presenting a session on Enterprise Ajax, entitled "Focusing on the A(rchitecture) in Ajax," at the Real-World Ajax Seminar in New York June 5-6.

Crupi has extensive J2EE experience, which brings a historical perspective to the current Ajax boom. During an exclusive podcast interview with SYS-CON (the file for which is attached), Crupi said that his presentation will focus on the deeper aspects of Ajax development, moving beyond just widgets for widgets sake. The Ajax bandwagon is clearly full, Crupi acknowledges, and he wants to be sure that enterprise IT developers who are considering Ajax, or who are already working with it, take a disciplined approach that brings out its true benefits to the organization.

Crupi also mentioned JackBe's presence in the Open Ajax Alliance, drew parallels to the current growth in Ajax with a previous mania for J2EE, and said that Alliance members hope to keep Ajax hanging together in a better way than the "multi-standard" approach that devolved from J2EE.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Getting ready for SaaS 2.0...

I've been advocating (& evangelizing) the SaaS alternatives to ASP-hosting models for the last few years, and firmly believe that it will be the proper accounting treatment of SaaS-architected client-server solutions on a capital-spending track (not consumed via browser, and therefore expensed) that will see the SaaS model truly explode. SaaS solutions that adhere to a customer-premise deployment & managed services subscription harness (ideally suited for .net), will rule the day & offer an improved TCO (Windows-Application Server Appliances are rapidly gaining ground) as an added discipline. It is already well understood by Enterprise Software experts, that software that profitably impacts customer workflows & business processes, needs to be customer-premised -- and alliances like the GXS/MSFT B2B grid solution are proving this point (thanks Eddie!)...

In pursuit of my above manifesto, I was fortunate to come across Bill McNee's similiar thoughts (and far more eloquent approach), and have excerpted them in full:

Get Ready for SaaS 2.0
A new study reveals seven key trends as software-as-a-service evolves beyond its current focus on cost-effective software application delivery toward an integrated business service provisioning platform.
By Bill McNee, Saugatuck Technology
May. 08, 2006

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is one of the most compelling and challenging IT and business innovations of the past two decades. Not surprisingly, SaaS is generating tremendous interest, heated debate, and a broad spectrum of opinion regarding its impact on users and vendors.

A new study from Saugatuck Technology, SaaS 2.0: Software-as-a-Service as Next-Gen Business Platform, shows that SaaS is at a fundamental "tipping point" between the current generation of software functionality delivered as a cost-effective service - or "SaaS 1.0" - and the emerging generation of blended software, infrastructure, and business services arrayed across multiple usage and delivery platforms and business models or "SaaS 2.0."

The move to SaaS 2.0 will bring with it new business trends and key points of caution for users and vendors alike.

What is the SaaS Shift?
Saugatuck research indicates that SaaS adoption has begun a pronounced acceleration, particularly among small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). This acceleration coincides with the emergence of the SaaS value proposition that Saugatuck refers to as SaaS 2.0. Figure 1 below illustrates this confluence of SaaS adoption and evolution.

Figure 1: Software-as-a-Service Evolution

Graph: Evolution of Software as a Service.
Source: Saugatuck Technology

While pundits similarly forecast rapid Application Service Provider (ASP) growth in the mid-to-late 1990s, hindsight indicates that the market was not yet ready for widespread adoption. Not only was the technology immature, with significant performance, security, customization and integration issues, but most user companies were not yet ready to buy mission-critical software as a hosted solution.

Further, the economics behind ASP single-tenancy models, including the lack of an aggressive on-demand, utility-style user environment, were just not compelling enough to tempt potential customers to make the leap to the new model in sufficient numbers to reach critical mass.

Three Cornerstones Support SaaS Adoption
Today, progress has been made across virtually every front. Saugatuck research and analysis indicates that SaaS is now entering a period of accelerated adoption, supported by three "cornerstone" business and technology factors.

First, the shift to SaaS 2.0 is being driven increasingly by the acceptance of SaaS as a viable software delivery model. User executives surveyed by Saugatuck indicate that 12 percent of U.S.-based companies have at least one major SaaS application installed (as of the first quarter 2006), with an additional 13 percent currently designing, prototyping or implementing their first SaaS application. Another 14 percent are planning to do so later in 2006 or in 2007. Given such strong adoption rates, Saugatuck expects continued strong provider growth over the next 18 months, especially among such leading and emerging SaaS application providers as Employease, NetSuite, PerfectCommerce, Right Now Technologies, and Salesforce.com.

Second, SMBs will lead SaaS 2.0 adoption (see Figure 1), after largely taking a "wait-and-see" attitude in the earlier part of this decade. Contrary to conventional wisdom at the time, Saugatuck's previous pay-as-you-go research found that large enterprises would be the most prevalent early SaaS adopters through 2005 - as many have sought to supplement existing enterprise applications, in addition to deploying point solutions. This latest research confirmed this trend, along with highlighting the "tipping point" toward accelerated SMB adoption 2006-2008. Most importantly, SMBs are now embracing SaaS for mission-critical workloads at twice the rate as large enterprises.

Third, due to the highly decentralized and fragmented procurement model of SaaS (often sold to business rather than IT buyers), Saugatuck found that most executives substantially underestimate current SaaS deployment and uasage, suggesting that the penetration rates noted above might be very conservative. Interviews with 40 U.S.-based user firms indicated that most executives at firms with greater than $1 billion in annual revenue initially believed that they had 3 to 5 SaaS applications deployed. Closer examination tended to reveal much greater SaaS presence, however. In fact, recent Sarbanes-Oxley compliance audits at two very large firms revealed that they had, respectively, 22 and more than 45 actively-deployed SaaS applications. Prior to the audits, they both believed that they had less than 10 actively deployed SaaS applications

SaaS 2.0: It's About Changing Business Platforms
To put it simply, SaaS 2.0 significantly extends and fundamentally changes what we think of and use as SaaS today. SaaS 2.0, for example, will incorporate advanced SOA and business process management technologies to provide a next-generation business management platform that competes with, and in many cases, replaces, traditional enterprise applications.

Figure 1 above lists the core changes that we're beginning to see as SaaS shifts to a more powerful position among user firms - and a more threatening position for many enterprise application vendors as the decade unfolds. These changes are reflected in the following seven key trends and attributes of SaaS 2.0:

1. Secure, flexible and efficient business processes and workflow. While cost effective software delivery and TCO have been key to the success of SaaS 1.0, the business drivers for SaaS 2.0 will be about helping users transform their business structures and processes. In this way, SaaS 2.0 has the potential to have much in common with Business Services Provisioning.
2. Service level agreements: While SaaS 1.0 offerings have delivered service level improvements in many cases, SaaS 2.0 will provide a much more robust infrastructure and application platform driven by Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This is fundamental due to the increasing focus on business mission-critical application delivery.
3. Rapid achievement of business objectives. Rather than SaaS being positioned and sold as a rapid implementation and deployment environment, SaaS 2.0 is much more about the rapid achievement of business objectives. In this sense, it is very clear that SaaS is not about the technology. The nuts and bolts infrastructure and application functionality that make up a solution is becoming much less important, while the business results that can be achieved and "getting the job done" are increasingly paramount.
4. Value-added business services. As core horizontal business application functionality delivered via SaaS becomes commoditized, vendors and service providers will increasingly differentiate with an array of value-add business service plug-ins (both programmable and non-programmable). In this way, SaaS 2.0 will deliver a blend of business process, application functionality, and managed services at an operational level. Effective management of the usage and benefits of such services requires consulting and analytics - delivered as part of the overall SaaS bundle. SaaS Integration Platforms (SIPs) will emerge as vendors, consultancies, and VARs learn how to bundle and deliver these critical, value-added capabilities.
5. Business impact via SaaS "Network Effect." Saugatuck defines the network effect of SaaS 2.0 as a cascading and radiating impact of business improvement and change within, across, and beyond the user enterprise. In other words, SaaS 2.0 deployment increases and improves choices, efficiencies, effectiveness, and business capabilities within the user enterprise, and between the enterprise and its suppliers, customers and business partners. New business opportunities emerge as a result of SaaS adoption and integration into user business operations.
6. Low-cost "white-label" vertical solution stacks. The business and technological flexibility and managed services aspects of SaaS 2.0 will engender a slew of custom, vertically-oriented solutions that will be used by SMBs, including firms below the 1000-employee/$250M revenue line (that have often eluded enterprise application vendors). When enterprise vendors begin delivering such SaaS 2.0 solutions, VARs - long the SMB channel of choice for enterprise vendors - will increasingly view those vendors as direct competitors. While many VARs will continue to act as channel partners, providing local/regional service and support - others will build or re-label competitive SaaS 2.0 vertical solutions, often using open source-based software and SOA standard components to reduce development costs and improve standardization and adaptability for customers.
7. SaaS Integration Platforms provide application sharing, delivery and management services. As users add SaaS applications over time, SIPs will play a critical role (especially in large enterprises) as a solution "hub" that provides integration, delivery, and management services. While IBM and Microsoft are well suited to this task, a number of emerging players are already well positioned, including offerings from Jamcracker (Pivot Path), OpSource (Optimal On-Demand), and Salesforce.com (AppExchange) - as did the recently-defunct Grand Central Communications that was heavily focused on providing a web services-based SaaS development and integration platform. On top of this are a long list of point solutions and management offerings across the entire technology stack.


SaaS 2.0 is About Business, not Technology
In sum, SaaS 2.0 goes well beyond today's SaaS business drivers, which have focused on cost-effective software delivery. Instead SaaS 2.0 is about helping users transform their business workflow and processes, and the way they do business. Along this road, Saugatuck's scenario-driven research (and IT history) suggests that SaaS will come in many forms and flavors, depending on market and industry segmentation.

To this end, we suggest three key points of caution for users and vendors alike:

* First, the relatively low ranking of "pre-existing vendor relationships" as a key priority among executives that we spoke to when selecting SaaS providers (10th on a list led by Price, TCO, Ease of doing business and Vendor Reputation) should be viewed as an important warning signal to existing software vendors. They need to be careful not to think about SaaS as merely a line-extension or delivery option, but instead view SaaS 2.0 as a new way of creating value that may in fact cannibalize traditional enterprise software lines of business.
* Second, in our judgement SaaS providers need to be careful not to apply a one-size-fits-all deployment and licensing model (founded on the principals of net-native, pay-for-service, multi-tenancy) for all customer segments. While a completely leveragable framework might work well for SMBs, large enterprises will have much more demanding requirements for flexibility in how they want to deploy, pay for, upgrade, integrate and customize their SaaS applications. Providing customers with choice will be the rule of the day.
* Third, building effective sales channels (SI, ISV and VAR) will be critical to SaaS adoption growth, as companies will still require significant application and data integration with their IT environment. Non-traditional channels (e.g., banks, telcos, web portals) will become key success factors for many SaaS solution categories, especially when targeting SMBs.

The bottom line? SaaS 2.0 is about changing business, and enabling new business. For users and for software and services vendors, success will be in the balance achieved by both in using and managing SaaS 2.0.

Bill McNee leads Saugatuck Technology's market strategy consulting practice as its Founder and CEO. The firm's new report, SaaS 2.0: Software-as-a-Service as Next-Gen Business Platform, co-authored with Mark Koenig and Bruce Guptill, has just been released and is available by visiting their website at www.saugatech.com/239order.htm. For further information, visit www.saugatech.com or call 1-203-454-3900.

10 requirements for software of the future

1. Multi-Tenant, Shared Systems – Using a single instance of an application to serve customers.
2. Trusted Reliability and Performance – Must have 99.9% and sub 300 Milliseconds per transaction. Has to be a transparent service
3. Democratization of Enterprise Applications –needs to serve 1 – 10,000 users all in the same fashion
4. Metadata-Driven Customization – The ability for SaaS users to define and customize the application – Language, business terms etc.
5. Mash-Ups –Leveraging the community and other services seamlessly into the application.
6. Web Services-base Integration – The web service API must be standard based to achieve the snap on functionality and collaboration demanded
7. Development as a Service –Example: Informatica’s PowerCenter Connect a family of data access options that provide broad, metadata-driven, high-performance data interchange for enterprise data integration initiatives. PowerCenter Connect includes options for accessing ERP and CRM systems, message-based real-time/EAI engines, industry standards-based data formats, relational and non-relational databases, and remote cross-enterprise data sources.
8. Application Exchanges - The ability to add and embed applications quickly and easily
9. Multi-Application Delivery – The ability to define access to applications and bundle them together to suite the needs of users on the fly.
10. Multi-Device Delivery – Write the application once and run it everywhere, Blackberry, Palm, etc.

Right now I like what a company called JamCracker http://www.jamcracker.com/ has to offer. Although Rearden and OpSource offer compelling solutions in this intergration space as well.