See full size imageIn a short sighted move, Amazon is shutting
down its Alexa Web Service, one of our favorites. You have until January 26 to move to similar services provided by Yahoo and Google. Amazon cited low usage as the reason. But why would they give users any reason to use a competing service?
GetGlue.com is a relatively new Web Service, available as a browser plug-in that connects you and other Glue users with the sites they visit. After using this for a couple of weeks, Glue's strength seems to be in connecting users on low volume sites. The problem? Glue only works on high volume sites that your friends probably already use. Glue has promise but needs to work on all sites.
KPI has seen a big increase in the number of request coming in for SOA consulting. In the three weeks prior to the election, the rate of calls/e-mails coming in for SOA consulting services was down to 1-2/day. For the past two weeks, we have seen 6-7/day. There are a lot of new SOA projects getting underway, and that is good news for those of us in this industry.
We have previously blogged about government agencies needing to share information. The 300+ plus federal agencies each have their own records management program, all with varying degrees of maturity. Michael J. Kurtz, Assistant Archivist for Records Services, has a podcast up that is recommended listening. A multi-agency Records Management Service initiative, under the leadership of the National Archives and Records Administration, is in place to develop an approach to move to SOA. I am skeptical on getting 300+ agencies to agree and conform, but it's an undertaking that is way overdue nonetheless.
KPI has performed consulting gigs with the government and their environment is made for SOA. Many government agencies need to share data with each other. As you can probably assume, there are a lot of disparate systems in place currently making this a difficult task. Booz Allen Hamilton recommended the use of SOA to DOD and the Vet -- and the recommendation was accepted. They will use SOA for exchanging clinical data. Of course, the private health care industry already has the HL7 exchange format standard, which makes the health care industry perfect for SOA.
KPI strongly encourages clients to understand the principles of SOA, understand why SOA fails, and what makes SOA projects successful. Many potential clients simply want to dive right in. Reading case studies up front is a great way to mitigate the high risk of a failed SOA project (remember, up to 80% of SOA projects are still failing). Here is a case study from First American, a company which provides information to financial companies. FA faced the same issues facing many projects going towards SOA -- a lot of software running on different systems. FA built a consolidated data center, using virtualization and a mirrored site for DA. Most interestingly, they are looking at implementing Cisco's Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA). SONA is an architectural approach for designing advanced capabilities into the network infrastructure.
Money has an article online concerning the hidden costs of the Google cloud. The article focuses on the identity tangle that KPI has ran into -- identity management with different personal and business accounts. The article overstates the hidden costs, but it's worth noting that moving to the cloud will have unexpected productivity costs that management should consider in planning and budgeting.
Amazon continues to widen its gap in the SOA CloudScape with its launch of CloudFront. CloudFront essentially delivers content via a network of edge locations, promising low latency and high data transfer speeds. CloudFront is pay as you go (ie no sales negotiations or commitments). Woot uses CloudFront for image hosting. PlayFish also uses CloudFront to deliver games. This is one service which will tip the scales for many enterprises thinking about using the cloud. One thing to note, however: if you are transferring huge amounts of data, it will likely be more cost effective to use Akamai (which is essentially cloud computing if you think about it).
Tibco and OpenSpan have formed an unusual alliance. Tibo wants to integrate their SOA and BPM solutions into desktop applications, while requiring minimal changes into the desktop apps. Tibco's Tom Laffey (exec VP) states this "allows any application to become a service endpoint, event source or step in a BPM process." However, Laffey seems over-optimistic when he states "The OpenSpan technology helps our joint customers service and event enable any desktop application without changing the code and with nearly zero impact to that application." I assume he's talking about bottom-up web service design, in which you build a WSDL from existing code. However, bottom-up development has interoperability issues and code changes are frequent. When your vendor makes claims, be sure to ask questions. Vendor hype in SOA is decreasing but still abundant.
I wrote the other day about the current trend of power companies going SOA. BlueStar, an energy company in the DC area, is a classic use case for SOA. BlueStar buys electricity on the broader market and resells it to residential and business customers. BlueStar CTO Tom Keen says the key is to schedule delivery in an optimal way. This means managing the flow of information, such as billing and purchasing transactions, across many actors: power generators, transmission operators, local distribution companies, and customers. Read the entire use case in ComputerWorld.
Want to know why SOA projects fail? KPI was recently contacted for a "one week WSRR engagement." We were incredulous. WSRR comes with a default lifecycle which is too generic for legitimate enterprise use. WSRR configuration is not turnkey. You must configure a DB, configure LDAP, configure policies, etc. A proper WSRR set up takes months. The potential client, however, simply could not comprehend this. Obviously, we walked away. They had no commitment to a successful SOA project. They are doomed to fail.
A Joe McKendric survey in Septemeber and October found that all planned SOA systems were still a go. McKendrick said there is a lot of concern about ROI. Basically, companies are plenty nervous but still proceeding with SOA. A survery by KPI has similar results: planned SOA projects are not being discarded. Companies need to understand why the ROI risk exists for SOA projects. Generally, 80% of SOA projects have failed and that the root cause is almost always poor architecture and poor CTO. Most successful SOA projects have started with new people at top.
A few years ago, the auto industry moved to SOA. One company moved, then the rest followed. Now it's happening with the power industry. KPI has received several inquiries lately from power companies wishing to migrate to SOA. Interestingly, all of them plan to use WebSphere, Process Server, et al.
A new Network World article details how Hyperic lets IT managers monitor the cloud. The rapid development of supporting tools is a good and necessary step for widespread SOA adoption. The author states that enterprises are beginning to use cloud computing for overflow traffic. I agree, but more importantly, new enterprises are starting business with the cloud. If the enterprise looks like a winner, they intend to move onto their own servers for perceived savings.
Microsoft's Azure for Web Services, which I previously blogged about as their OS for cloud computing is live. SQL, .NET services, and a service bus are now available, but you will have to wait for Sharepoint and Dynamics CRM. I believe Sharepoint will be the most popular of their cloud computing apps. If you have questions, read their FAQ.
A study from CA finds that 43% of IT execs deem SOA security as the most critical issue to their SOA implementation. Surveyed execs reported experiencing an average of seven XML targeted attacks against externally facing SOA or Web services applications in the past year. SOA security is very immature and have their own set of security issues such as replay attacks. Over half of the respondents have delayed a Web Service due to security concerns. Execs are also calling for SOA security to be integrated with identity and access management systems.
Eclipse is ending several SOA projects due to lack of interest. Application Lifecycle Framework (ALF), started in 2005 to solve integration problems of application lifecycle management (ALM) for SOA developments, is gone. They tried to re-invent themsevles as a mashup provider, but for that, use sMash (projectzero) -- free from IBM. Eclipse will also end the STP Service Creation (STP-SC) sub-project designed to provide tool integration for SOA developers and the SOA System (STP-SOAS) set out to define developer APIs. As we often say, using open source projects is a dangerous game. Go with a prime vendor (Sonic, IBM, Oracle) who have enterprise quality products and support.
Amazon Web Services alum Jeff Lawson is launching twilio.com, a pay-per-use web service which will allow your web app to make and receive phone calls. Lawson forsees a retailer using it to create automated order status updates for a customer service line, for example. I do not see much value in this - who makes phone calls these days? It's all about SMS, Twitter, etc.
Gartner reports: "The number of organizations planning to adopt SOA for the first time decreased to 25 percent; it had been 53 percent in last year's survey. Also, the number of organizations with no plans to adopt SOA doubled from 7 percent in 2007 to 16 percent in 2008. This dramatic falloff has been happening since the beginning of 2008." This is attributed to the US economy. As I've written previously, however, Europe is much more progressive on the SOA technology front. They clearly see the technological and financial advantages of SOA and continue to think long term despite the short-term economic situation. This is reflected by KPI's industry experience and by readership stats on this web site. Gartner concurs, stating: "plans for (SOA) adoption vary widely by region. SOA adoption is nearly universal in Europe, moderate in North America, and lagging in Asia, Gartner said."
UPDATE: ZDNet looks at Force.com
Read this article to see how Force.com expands Salesforce's cloud footprint. SAP is falling even further behind Salesforce in getting CRM on the cloud. On an unrelated note, to see a cool Force.com/Zillow mashup, check this out: http://wiki.apexdevnet.com/index.php/Force.com_Zillow_Mashup
I have been working with a number of RESTful services lately. Unlike SOAP, some RESTful services do not have well defined responses. SOAP based services are (of course) defined in a WSDL, making the response easily parsible. The WSDL thus provides a formal contract between service provider and consumer. This is not the case with REST. RESTful service providers have not adopted WADL and I've seen everything from JavaScript to XML returned. In the worst case, RESTful providers are returning XML without an XSD. While RESTful providers generally provide APIs, this lack of a formal contract results in lost productivity. For example, there are some RESTful services in which I want to parse the response XML. Without a referenced XSD, I have lost productivity in researching APIs to figure out the response. This is unnecessary and something which must be improved in REST.