As you've probably read by now, 30MB versions of the Zune stopped working everywhere around 1:30am early this morning. It's a good reminder that companies need to think about what happens when the cloud goes down. Some say "but local servers go down too." True, but in a DR setup, your environment can withstand losing one datacenter. I know, I've architected a DR site that kept running when one datacenter was lost due to massive power and generator failures following a hurricane. Usage of the cloud needs to be thought of in those terms. You can't rely on just one cloud -- or else expect your business interruption insurance to go after your forced to a file a claim.
There have been countless articles written upon SOA failure rates. But how do you define SOA failure? Sure, it's easy when the project is scrapped. But what about the cases in which the SOA project is completed but way overbudget? Success or failure? Most organizations simply aren't mature enough to define the success or failure of a project. Rather, they use the famous Supreme Court "I know it when I see it" measure. I recommend to our customers that quantitative metrics be used to determine success and failure. It's almost always met with resistance, but defining these success/failure metrics helps bring far-fetched expectations into realtiy and results in a better planned project.
BroadSoft and Sylantro, two struggling VOIP companies failing to gain market share in the application mashup space, are now one. Both platforms will be supported until they are merged. BroadSoft announced this summer that they were moving from SOAP based to RESTful APIs. Sylantro still uses SOAP based APIs. I don't think this acquisition matters -- both play in a space that simply has no interest.
ZDNet has published reader comments on SOA. We disagree with Kirstan who states "Open source tools like XAware for data services, ActiveEndpoints for orchestration, Mule or ServiceMix for ESB, are quite mature." Quite the opposite is true, these tools are immature. Kirstan also adds "open source tools make even greater sense for ‘project level SOA,’ where a company can build an SOA in the small before committing to an expensive enterprise-level SOA." Again, this is bad advice. Let's say you decide to use Mule for "project level SOA". Switching to an enterprise level ESB such as DataPower or Tibco is non-trivial. It is always best practive to develop on the product stack to which you will deploy production.
Joe McKendrick has a nice article highlighting SOA success stories. My favorite example: "To speed up the pace of mergers and acquisitions." This is an often overlooked benefit of SOA -- any company with an SOA-based infrastructure can more easily assimilate an acquired company. Companies often overlook this benefit as they simply aren't mature enough to account for this potential benefit (unlike their ability to account for opportunity costs).
KPI has seen very little activity in staffing SOA projects during the holidays.  Traffic is generally slow this time of year, but this year seems unusually slow.  Perhaps it's the calendar, which has placed both Christmas and New Years on a Thursday (many people have taken 24th-1st off).  KPI has had only one SOA inquiry in the past four days -- I will let you know when traffic picks up.
Amazon is the king of SOA. To understand why, read this article with their CTO Werner Vogels. The interesting points: (1) most Amazon software is homegrown (2) developers have no lock-in, i.e. they aren't forced to use Amazon storage, (3) Shifting investment from up-front to usage-based investment is something that CFOs at this moment clearly love. On point three, I wonder if CFO's consider the costs of the Amazon cloud going down. KPI recommends that organizations not run their entire business on an external cloud for just this reason. We've always maintained that a hybrid approach is best (such as using a cloud to handle traffic peaks).
Joe McKendrick makes five SOA predictions for 2009. I disagree that there will be less hype about SOA. Given the current economy, vendors will likely push SOA even harder. SOA is powering the next wave of corporate technology upgrades -- the more hype, the easier a product is to sell. No company wants to fall behind, even in a bad economy. Expect vendors to play companies against each other in order to drive SOA business.
I have blogged a number of times about the advantages of Amazon's Web Services.  What's missing from this space is a guide on migrating to their services. ZDNet has a useful how-to online, using HelpStream as a use case. The article also shows that determining ROI on SOA, a topic which is discussed endlessly, is not difficult to compute.
John Andrews, CEO of researcher Evans Data Corp, says "During the economic situation we're in now, I expect SOA implementation velocity will decrease. John K. Waters adds "SOA projects are particularly at risk of being cut from budgets due to the difficulty in determining the return on investment (ROI) of such projects." It's not that difficult. If an organization cannot determine the ROI of an SOA project, it is not mature enough to commence a complex SOA project in the first place.
...think again! Micro Focus has announced "Micro Focus COBOL for Eclipse" which allow you to expose COBOL program interfaces as Web Services. Hopefully, organizations will use this as an intermediate step in moving from COBOL to modern technology. We've seen many companies use Progress to connect to legacy system. Some have no intention of moving off the legacy, stating this keeps short term costs down. The forward thinkers use Progress to connect to legacy on an interim basis as they move off the mainframe. The number of COBOL developers is obviously dwindling every year.
Unisys contacted my company a little bit ago about an SOA project but we could not agree on a contract. We were skeptical of their SOA commitment but we were wrong. They will help New Zealand financial services cooperative PSIS go SOA. It's a 4 year commitment. The financial industry has embraced SOA worldwide. With so many recent mergers, SOA can provide for easier integration of disparate systems.
Web Services from the US Postal Services have been knocked offline several times this week due to heavy traffic and unknown computer glitches (bugs I assume).  Click-N-Ship, the most popular Web Service, was  affected.  Many sites had problems this holiday season with Sears.com  (I didn't know people still shopped there) being mostly unavailable on Black Friday.
Forbes.com will use Xignite to provide real-time stock quotes throughout Forbes.com using BATS Exchange trading data. Xignite's cloud services platform and simple Web widgets allows Forbes to integrate real-time stock quotes and charts anywhere in just minutes. The cost is significantly lower cost than traditional market data solutions. Another win-win for cloud computing.
Amazon Web Services logoAmazon is putting public data sets on the cloud. Many researchers spend a good portion of their grant money on IT, reducing the amount of money they spend on their core research. But after a few researchers from Harvard began using Amazon for servers and storage, Amazon got smart. They are now making large data sets available for free -- some of which are so large they would take hours to download. Amazon is hoping that researchers won't download the data, but rather access the data while paying for services. The US Census data is already online. Other data, such as historical economic data, is soon to come.
AmberPointAmberpoint has increased their coverage of the Microsoft platform, including Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and the Microsoft Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) v3 Registry. It's better late than never for Microsoft, which has been unfashionably late to the SOA party. Having the support of vendors such as AmberPoint is crucial to adoption. AmberPoint now has a broad range of support for Microsoft (IIS, Active Directory, Windows Server, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, Operations Manager).
Google
No SoftwareSalesforce.comCRM The World's Favorite Customer Relationship Management - Salesforce.com is now partnerinCRM The World's Favorite Customer Relationship Management - Salesforce.comg with Google to allow its Force.com PAAS access to Google’s cloud-based application development platform. Salesforce develoCRM The World's Favorite Customer Relationship Management - Salesforce.compers will have native access to Google’s distributed storage system (Bigtable) while Google App Engine developers will have access to the Salesforce platform. Google and Salesforce originally teamed up in June 2008, when they announced the release of the Force.com Tool for Google APIs, giving Force.com access to the data in Google Apps. Salesforce.com already connects to Amazon's web services. It's a win-win for both companies.
Quova provides location services that map IP addresses to geographic locations. Currently, customers host a local Quova server to retrieve this mapping. Using Quova's new Web Service, customers can now use a simple script to access the data. Sophisticated e-retailers use Quova to detect possible fraud.  For example, some retailers check the distance between the actual and expected user location. They create rules in their Web applications to decline or review orders falling X miles or more away from the shipping or billing address. E-tailers report that orders coming from 500 miles or more away from the expected location have a higher probability of being fraudulent.
One of the biggest misconceptions I hear from companies is that moving to an SOA based approach will help a company save money in the recession. There are a couple things wrong with this point of view. Of course, SOA is a long term investment which will actually result in higher short term costs. The payoff is long term. The basis for this misconception is rooted in a company's belief that you can build a production ready SOA system in 4-6 months. Believe it or not, we field this request far, far too often. If you're reading this blog, we do not need to explain further.
Virgin Atlantic has renewed an application services deal with EDS for five years. VA, of course, has worked with EDS for 25 years. EDS will develop AirlineSOA "to provide improved customer services, greater agility and lower costs”, according to IT director Mike Cope. American also uses SOA I believe.
Joe McKendrick writes that "Mashups can be done now, without waiting for SOA to come along." I'm not sure I agree with that. Mashups are ideal for SOA. In fact, most mashups use SOA -- just RESTful services, not SOAP based ones. Comments?
Zenbe is a new web service that is a cloud on top of a cloud. Zenbe consolidates all your webmail (Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail, etc) into one. In addition, it offers an online calendar, lists, mobile sync, and file sharing. It also works with Facebook and Twitter. I've tested this and it's a great service...if you trust Zenbe with your e-mails that is.