The IT Strategy Letter
A digest of Doug Kaye's weblogs for the week ending March 17, 2002



Web Services Strategies
Web Hosting Strategies
Subscription Information

Web Services Strategies

What Web Services Will and Won't Do. Three Gartner guys "get it," and cut through some of the hype. I particularly appreciate that they dispell the myth that, "web services will foster a revolution in self-aware software that makes all decisions without human intervention."
Posted Friday, March 15, 2002 6:01:31 PM 

Ecademy. Thanks to Julian Bond for turning me on to this UK-based site where web services are a major focus. It takes a while to find your way around, but there are numerous treasures here. Thanks to David Rosam, too, for recommending the site.
Posted Friday, March 15, 2002 2:36:05 PM

IT Strategy Letter. If you don't have the ability to subscribe to my weblogs via RSS (using a tool like Radio), you can now receive the same content via email by subscribing to my new newsletter. I expect to send it out weekly. Either way--RSS or email--sure beats having to visit the site just to see if anything's new.
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2002 12:03:27 AM 

Tale of two Rodneys. Steve Gillmor at InfoWorld deciphers the politics of the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) Organization of which Sun is most notably not a member.
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2002 11:58:42 AM

Catching Up on My Reading. There's so much being written about web services, I'm convinced you could read for 40 hours a week just trying to keep up. But I've managed to get through a huge pile over the past few days. Some of the best writing I've encountered comes from The Stencil Group, which I mentioned a few days ago. One favorite issue is by Brent Sleeper from July 15, 2001., and not just because I used to play Mille Bornes. Not part of the series, and harder to find on their web site, is a lengthier 12-page whitepaper written by Bill Robbins, entitled How Web Services Wil Beat the "New New Thing" Rap. Some first-rate thinking and analysis there.

Another great resource is the Web Services Zone of IBM's developerWorks site. Catalysts for fee-based Web services is the latest (and best) in a series by Dan Gisolfi, an excellent writer.
Posted Saturday, March 09, 2002 5:54:28 PM 

Reality from the Front Lines. A friend and client, in the middle of a web services implementation, has this to say (edited):

We're in the middle of SOAP, and at this point, I'll vote "not ready for prime time," at least on the Java side. XML is just a huge mess. JAXP, Xalan, Xerces, Crimson, SOAP, Xmlparserv2. Everything requires something else; this can't work with that; you must have version x.x.x of A to work with B, but of course, that won't work if you're using C. The general consensus [among deeply involved developers] is that SOAP is a technology to watch, but not many people are willing to tackle it yet. This is one instance where having a single entity like Microsoft around to put together a logical and functional set of parts would make for a better and more effective developer experience. [On the non-Microsoft side] we've got Sun, Apache, IBM, Oracle and others all trying to come up with the right "solution." But right now, it's a mess of interoperability. Sun is trying to address this very problem with their XML bundle and Java Web Services Pack. Let's hope it works.
Posted Saturday, March 09, 2002 9:30:54 AM

<E-Business*Standards Weekly Wire/> Weekly Wire. Yes, the title includes the XML angle brackets and slash. (What a pain to make it render in HTML. :-)) E-Business*Standards*Today, published by Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA), provides a daily update on the latest developments in e-business standards, from a variety of news sources. It's a good way to learn about progress on industry-specific XML standards. Free subscription form at the bottom of the page.
Posted Friday, March 08, 2002 9:24:01 PM 

Frictionless Discovery. According to the hype, UDDI directory services will allow your systems to automatically switch from the web services of one vendor to another. Have you studied UDDI? It doesn't come close to supporting such flexibility. As Brent Sleeper at The Stencil Group wrote back in July, 2001, "Although much of the published enthusiasm for web services seems focused on a utopia of frictionless discovery of trading partners and minimal switching costs among programmatic connections, corporate IT users know this vision is a long, long way off."

Intel's Chief e-strategist, Christopher Thomas believes this "second step of web services is three to four [years off]." It's one thing to discover that a service exists (even that remains a manual process with UDDI), but unless all of the competing service providers adopt identical SOAP interfaces, you've still got to code for each one. Perhaps this will be an interim role for web service networks like Grand Central and Flamenco--providing a single interface to comparable but non-identical web services.
Posted Friday, March 08, 2002 9:16:32 AM

Live on CNET Radio. You can catch me live on CNET Radio on Wednesday 3/13/02 at 10am PST (1pm EST). I'll be talking about web hosting and answering questions from callers for a full hour. If you're in the S.F. Bay Area, you can receive the show on 910AM. In Boston, it's on 890AM. Otherwise, you can hear the show live on the Internet.
Posted Thursday, March 07, 2002 4:42:57 PM

The Stencil Group. Created by former iXL strategists Brent Sleeper and Bill Robbins, this consultancy publishes an excellent free newsletter. Very valuable for staying abreast of developments and ideas in web services. The back issues are worth downloading.
Posted Thursday, March 07, 2002 7:10:26 AM

Suddenly Seeking SLAs. Today we use software components. Tomorrow we'll use Web Services. Today we depend on warranties and support contracts. Tomorrow we're going to need service level agreements. If the SLAs for Web Services are anything like today's SLAs for connectivity and web hosting, we're in trouble.

I see two problems. First, the typical SLA in entirely insufficient as an expression of an acceptable business relationship. It's a long story; buy my book and read Chapter 10. Second, as mentioned in the Icebergs Ahead! posting below, we're going to be receiving our services from vendors who have never done this before.

I predict the emergence of a new business: third-party monitoring of Web Service service levels. Companies like Keynote could play this role, but I think it's more likely to come from new players.
Posted Monday, March 04, 2002 7:27:52 PM

Icebergs Ahead! The biggest challenges of Web Services facing CIOs and CTOs won't be the technology; it's fairly simple. But the migration from software components to Web Services brings with it some implications that few have yet considered. For example: today, your B2C e-commerce application computes sales taxes using code/data modules licensed from a third party. Your tax calculation process is relatively stable. Once it's working, it tends not to break. The worst thing that happens is that updates don't get to you on time or they contain errors, but these are relatively simple to fix and the system doesn't tent to work/fail/work on a minute-to-minute basis.

In the Web Services world, however, you'll compute sales taxes by making real-time requests over the wire. Your sales tax vendor will then have a whole new set of challenges. Does the vendor (today a supplier of software and data) have the experience, staff and infrastructure necessary to keep a Web Service up and running 24x7? Most software companies don't know how to do this; they only know how to write, deliver and maintain code. Suddenly, a feature that broke only occasionally is likely to fail more frequently even if for shorter periods of time. In Web Services, the MTTR increases, but the MTBF drops dramatically.

Furthermore, if your e-commerce application requires multiple Web Services to complete the checkout process, your likelihood of failure increases for each service upon which you depend. To mitigate these increased failure rates, you'll need to plan to utilize multiple tax calculation Web Services, in turn supported by your own failover logic. Hmmm...this is starting to sound a lot harder than the way it works today! You're going to be planning for Web Service single points of failure just as you do today for hardware.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you intend to be a Web Service Provider yourself, are you up to that task? Are you prepared to deliver your service to meet high-availability requirements? Do you have a track record of doing so?
Posted Monday, March 04, 2002 6:20:24 PM


Web Hosting Strategies A message from Rich Miller reminded me about this site that I'd found a while ago. It's aimed at the vendors, helping them to buy/sell/lease colo and telco space, but if you're a high-end customer, you'll probably find some gems here. At $1,795 their Colocation 2002 "450-page guide to the industry of power and space" is a bit pricey, but looks interesting if you're spending more than $20,000/month for pure colo.
Posted Friday, March 15, 2002 3:45:53 PM

The Top 10 SANs vs. NAS Decision Factors. I dedicated one chapter in my book to storage, but W. Curtis Preston has written an entire book on the subject. His Top 10 list is a good place to start.
Posted Friday, March 15, 2002 2:42:43 PM 

What Web Hosting Customers Want. This is my first in a series of guest editorials for The Web Host Industry Review, one of my favorite resources for news and opinions on the web-hosting industry.
Posted Friday, March 15, 2002 12:15:33 PM

IT Strategy Letter. If you don't have the ability to subscribe to my weblogs via RSS (using a tool like Radio), you can now receive the same content via email by subscribing to my new newsletter. I expect to send it out weekly. Either way--RSS or email--sure beats having to visit the site just to see if anything's new.
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2002 12:03:27 AM

Hardware-The Rental Option. Read my guest commentary in today's first issue of Internet World's Web Hosting News. I'll be writing a column for them once a month. Subscriptions are free.
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2002 1:18:43 PM 

Wimpy SLAs. If you've read Chapter 10 of my new book, you know how ridiculous I think the current state of affairs in SLAs is. On behalf of a client, I recently had occassion to review WorldCom's SLAs for shared hosting and managed hosting. I don't want to pick on WorldCom. At least they put their SLAs on line for all to see. And their SLAs are no worse than most others I read. But SLAs like WorldCom's are just about worthless. Just some pet peeves:

  • Scheduled Maintenance. The shared-hosting SLA includes 28 hours per week of potential scheduled maintenance time during which you can't complain and have no rights in case your web site is down. IOW, 17% of your uptime is up for grabs.
  • Outages. Again in the shared-hosting SLA, a problem isn't considered an outage unless it lasts at least one hour. Your server could be re-booted every 20 minutes, and take another ten just to come up. 50% downtime, and it's all "okay."
  • Remedies. And if your server is unavailable for the entire month, what do you get? You'll get a credit for one entire week, thank you very much. And you have to ask for the credit--it's not automatic. And you won't get a credit for the bandwidth you paid for and didn't use while your server was down.
I could go on and on, and I do in my book, but the fact is that these SLAs are a joke. And like I say, it's not just WorldCom--they're all like this. Think I'm nuts? Imagine if you bought a new car and the warranty read something like this: "We guarantee that this car will run forever, but if it doesn't, we'll fix it for free for the first five years or 50,000 miles whichever comes first. That is, except for a few minor inconveniences: (1) With advance notice, we may disable it for up to 17% of the time. But don't worry. That will only happen when you don't need it very much. (2) If your car turns out to be a lemon, and we can't keep it running, we'll give you back an entire 25% of what you paid for it! (Fine print: We'll also have to charge you a fee for the miles you weren't able to drive while your car was out of service."

Think I'm nuts? Ask any web-hosting vendor and they'll tell you it would never happen like that. Their SLAs are far more conservative than their actual performance history. Oh yeah? Well why don't they make their SLAs more closely resemble the claims they make during the sales cycle? My car's warranty exactly matches the service I expect from the dealer. No more; no less. Why isn't this the case for SLAs?
Posted Saturday, March 09, 2002 5:12:15 PM

Stats and Trends. There are no new concepts in the PDF whitepaper written by dash30 contributer Gilda Raczkowski and published by WorldCom, but it's a free source of interesting stats from Forrester Research. The numbers include web-site, hosting and e-commerce trands by company size, and growth by type of hosting service (shared, colo, managed).
Posted Friday, March 08, 2002 8:41:00 AM 

Live on CNET Radio. You can catch me live on CNET Radio on Wednesday 3/13/02 at 10am PST (1pm EST). I'll be talking about web hosting and answering questions from callers for a full hour. If you're in the S.F. Bay Area, you can receive the show on 910AM. In Boston, it's on 890AM. Otherwise, you can hear the show live on the Internet.
Posted Thursday, March 07, 2002 4:42:57 PM 

Verio Closing More Data Centers. "Verio announced a restructuring in September to trim staff and close some of its 46 data centers as it switched its focus to providing managed services. At that time, Verio did not say how many data centers it would close, but a spokesman says about a dozen data centers already have been shut down. Last month, Verio revealed that it is making deeper cuts and will close a total of 36 data centers, leaving 10 operational." I don't normally report news, and I have no inside information on this, but some of my clients are hosted at Verio, and they've been satisfied. It looks like Verio is biting the bullet and doing what they need to do.
Posted Sunday, March 03, 2002 10:05:16 PM


Subscription and Contact Info

The IT Strategy Letter is published weekly by Doug Kaye. The content is identical to Doug's weblogs.


Subscribe (opt out)
Edit subscription options
View or search newsletter archives
Email Doug or visit his site at

©2002 Doug Kaye ()


"...essential reading for anyone seeking to deploy this technology."

--John Hagel, III,
management consultant
and author of
"Out of the Box"


Read More Reviews of Loosely Coupled