The IT Strategy Letter
A digest of Doug Kaye's weblogs for the week ending April 30, 2002


Web Services Strategies
Web Hosting Strategies
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Web Services Strategies

Web Services Claptrap. Phil Wainewright goes on the offensive:

Web services enable a completely new way of building applications from componentised online services. But that's not what the established industry would have you believe. Ask any analyst or vendor today, and they'll tell you that the purpose of web services is to make it easier to integrate existing applications together...

[W]eb services do not exist to patch up the shortcomings of present-day applications. They will make them obsolete.

There's a war going on between those with different views of what web services are or ought to be. I don't agree with everything Phil writes on this topic, but he expresses it well, and you should read the full article in his own words.

I see value in both Phil's vision and the use of the same technologies to solve many of the real integration challenges many CIOs face today. Phil may be right that web services have the potential to obsolete those truly awful monolithic applications we have to deal with today, and I want my clients to see Phil's "vision of the future." But I also want them to be realistic about the timeframe for the manifestation of that vision and to take shorter-term advantage of what the technology can allow them to do today. We (consultants) get paid to call it the way we see it, and we're not all going to see it the same way. It is important to know who's paying the bills of anyone whose opinions you hear, of course. Just ask Merrill Lynch.
Posted Friday, April 26, 2002 5:08:48 PM

Top 10 Web Services Tips. Thomas Power has pulled together this top-ten list at For maximum benefit, read them a second time and extrapolate. The value of Thomas' tips are in the inferences you'll draw from chewing on them for a while. "Remember the result is likely to be superior to what you do today. If not, don't do it...But as always, for the brave there are great opportunities."
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2002 12:16:08 PM 

Microsoft: Web Services are Hype. You'll enjoy the ironies of the early-adopter trap.

Microsoft Corp has blamed industry hype for unleashing a potential backlash from customers angry that web services have been oversold.
Early adopters include Bank One Corp, and partners such as who have committed to .NET My Alerts as a means to notify consumers of important information. .NET My Alerts is part of Microsoft's 14 .NET My Services...Bank One's $30m deal was to have seen customers notified of relevant financial information, such as account activity.
[Source: Scott Loftensess/Glenbrook Partners and Julian Bond/]
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2002 10:31:42 AM

Security Architecture and Roadmap. Microsoft and IBM have released, Security in a Web Services World: A Proposed Architecure and Roadmap, an excellent 20-page whitepaper that "subsume and expand upon the ideas expressed in similar specifications previously proposed by IBM and Microsoft (namely the SOAP-Security, WS-Security and WS-License specifications)." It's quite thorough, and includes 14 scenarios that demonstrate practical applications of the various concepts. [Source: Dennis Moser/Glenbrook Partners]
Posted Thursday, April 25, 2002 6:09:40 AM

UDDI in eWeek. Confused about the realities of UDDI directories? You're not alone. Here are three articles in eWeek that I found helpful.

  • Web Directories Dial In, by Anne Chen, is a good overview. "Gartner estimates that, through 2005, more than 75 percent of Web services located through UDDI will be services privately generated by known partners with pre-existing agreements."
  • UDDI 2.0 Provides Ties That Bind is a sidebar that explains what's been added to this most-recent version of UDDI. (The specs for UDDI 3.0 should be finalized later this year.)
  • In Directories Ready for Testing, Timothy Dyck compares two commercially available implementations of UDDI 2.0 from Systinet and IBM.
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2002 11:15:37 AM

Anne Thomas Manes on Web Services Protocols. This month-old interview in InfoWorld gives a valuable perspective on the realities of the state-of-the-art in web services. Anne championed SOAP within Sun before becoming CTO of Systinet. Some of my favorite comments include:

  • Re Liberty: "I hope at some point it actually will conform to Liberty Project, if Liberty ever actually produces some specifications."
  • Re asynchronous services: "Most of the SOAP implementations that are out there only support a blocking API, which means you issue a request and your application just sits and waits for a response to come back." [Non-blocking APIs and message queuing aren't quite the same, but they're both required for asynchronous web services.]
  • Re workflow standards: "Right now there are two specs that are floating around. One's from Microsoft, called [XLANG], and one's from IBM, called WSFL [Web Services Flow Language]. As far as I know, no one else in the world has rights to use either of those specs because they're owned by their respective companies. There's certainly been no effort, in any kind of an open forum, in any case, to coordinate that activity and stuff."
  • Re SOAP and WSDL: "Neither SOAP 1.1 nor WSDL 1.1 are sanctioned by any kind of standards body in any way. They just happened to be published and accepted and have enormous acceptance. But they are not perfect specifications. There are big holes in both of those specs that makes interoperability somewhat challenging, because a lot of things are left as exercises to the implementer."
  • Re service-oriented architectures (SOAs): "You no longer have this nice visual approach to designing your application. You now have to break the presentation away from the actual business logic and design the business logic so that it's completely independent from the type of user interface...Your average VB programmer has no clue how to do that hard stuff, and that's the biggest impediment right now."

Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2002 1:17:53 PM 

SOAP Backlash. Speaking of InfoWorld, I wondered in my weblog whether anyone else noticed the extent to which it's become "Web Services World?" I may not agree with everything they publish, but the commitment and volume are impressive, if not overwhelming.

A few days later, Joel Spolsky wrote,

Just watch, I predict within three weeks InfoWorld runs out of ideas for Web Services stories and has to run a big spread on how Web Services were "overhyped" and now CTOs are "revolting" against "vaporware."
Okay, that's May 16. Mark your calendars.
Posted Friday, April 26, 2002 6:45:08 PM

Opinari. David Chappell has launched this email newsletter--off to a good start. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending David's presentation at SofTech, entitled "Web Services - .NET - The Microsoft Vision." Although the topic was intentionally Microsoft-centric, David was objective and painted an honest Microsoft-vs.-the-rest-of-the-world picture.
Posted Friday, April 26, 2002 5:35:06 PM

Web Hosting Strategies

Hosting Web Services. In this brief InfoWorld piece, Tom Sullivan nibbles at the question of web-services hosting.

Food for thought: As web-hosting vendors continue to consolidate and otherwise adjust to more difficult times, might the hosting of web services be a part of their salvation? As organizations deploy external web services, they're going to encounter the same challenges they did with deploying e-commerce: How to deliver more robust systems than their IT departments are used to delivering for in-house applications. Some will turn to hosting services. Will we call those outsourcers web-service providers (WSPs), or will the now-tainted ASP acronym return?
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2002 6:04:58 PM 

[Update: Read about Julian Bond's real-world experiences from implementing web services on shared servers at WebFusion and Interland. Doesn't this sound like what we all went through (or are still go through) trying to host e-commerce apps? Hence the challenge for the web-hosting vendor community. At some point, web services will move from the DIY model to that of hosted packages. One guess: Look for hosted "portlet" servers to appear.]

A Complete Guide to Hosting. Rosemarie Wise has written a good step-by-step tutorial for customers of shared- and dedicated-server web hosting. She's also crafted a thoughtful Web Site Owner site based on her personal experiences owning and managing sites.
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2002 7:18:16 AM

Pay For What You Get. In Web Hosts Should Adjust Price Values for Economic Downturn, Rawlson King writes

"You get what you pay for" should therefore become the new mantra of the Web hosting industry, to ensure that complex hosting firms remain viable. Prices for service packages should be in-line with operating expenses in order to weather out the current, stormy economic conditions.
"Acquire customers at all costs," doesn't work any more. Those days are gone. If you're a web-hosting customer, and don't want to get trapped in the rubble of a collapsing vendor, look for a web-hosting service that heeds Rawlson's advice. If the price seems too good, it's gonna cost you.
Posted Saturday, April 27, 2002 5:55:43 AM

Bandwidth Glut Coming to an End? The dramatic price collapse of bandwidth, caused by the infamous "bandwidth glut," may be nearing an end, according to a new report from research firm TeleGeography. [Source: The Web Host Industry Review]
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2002 11:22:41 AM

WebTalkGuys Radio Show. On May 18, 2002, I'll be talking about web hosting with Rob and Dana on their weekly program. WebTalkGuys can be heard on CNET Radio in Boston (890AM) Saturdays 1pm and Sundays 10pm and San Francisco (910AM) Saturdays 10am and Sundays 7pm, on KLAY 1180 AM in Seattle/Tacoma and via the XM Satellite Network (Channel 130). WebTalkGuys is also available on the NexTel Wireless Web service through XSVoice.
Posted Sunday, April 21, 2002 7:28:49 PM

Guest Editorials. And finally, just in case you missed my recent web-hosting guest editorials...


Hardware--The Rental Option

Traders, Exchanges and Brokers


What Web Hosting Customers Want

Acts of God: Sorry, That's Beyond Our Control

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