The IT Strategy Letter
A digest of Doug Kaye's weblogs for the week ending August 21, 2002 (Subscribe)


Web Services Strategies
Web Hosting Strategies
Doug's Media and Speaking Appearances
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Web Services Strategies

The IBM/Microsoft Duopoly. Eric Knorr covers a lot of ground in this article on ZDNet Tech Update. As far as news, Eric reports on the merger of IBM's Web Services Flow Language (WSFL) and Microsoft's XML Language (XLang) into BPEL4WS (BPEL for short). He also discusses the new jointly published business-process specs: WS-Coordination and WS-Transactions.

But the meat of Eric's article deals with the current political state of the web-services protocol process. He asks first why development work on three overlapping B2B business protocols--ebXML, the Business Processing Modeling Language (BPML), and the freshly minted Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI)--seems to have been overlooked? "Probably because all three are backed by Sun," he surmises.

Eric also speculates on the significance of control of WS-Security and UDDI having shifted to OASIS as opposed to W3C in the past six weeks. "Could it be because the W3C has been moving in the direction of a royalty-free policy while OASIS is not?"
Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2002 2:55:59 AM   

Brent Sleeper asks, "[Are] the proposed standards really independent of a particular product implementation?" and, "Do the proposed standards support a variety of complex, stateful, asynchronous, etc., business processes interactions?"
Posted Monday, August 19, 2002 10:49:54 PM  

SODA. Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink, summarizes his Seven Principles of Service-Oriented Development in this article in XML & Web Services Magazine. Jason is one of the better analyst/writers on web services, although I can't agree with him on every point. Some annotated excerpts...

  • A Web services architect does not have the luxury of combining business and presentation logic. [True.]
  • Coding for broad applicability supersedes coding for reusability. [...The] aim is to create code that is flexible and broadly applicable. [An excellent observation. Think about it: With web services, it's not the code that needs to re-used, but the service itself.]
  • Scalability handled bottom-up, instead of top-down...If a system experiences unexpected traffic, it can automatically find backup services in a registry, obtain their service descriptions, and bind to the supplemental services on the fly. [I disagree. Any system that can fail-over to an alternative service on-the-fly must be, by definition, designed at a level above the switching point.]
  • Instead of taking this top-down approach, service-oriented development takes a bottom-up approach. [More of the above. I disagree. One still needs to determine the required components first, and that's top-down.]
  • Platform dependence gives way to platform irrelevance...[Referring to the old component-based approach...] The components are soccer players who kick a ball to each other, and the platform is the field. Needless to say, two players will find it difficult to interact if they are on different fields. [One of my favorites.]
The article is a tease for ZapThink's $50-per-page research report: Insight: How Service-Oriented Development Will Transform the Software Industry.
Posted Monday, August 19, 2002 11:53:10 AM   

BTP Primer. Released in June by OASIS, this is an excellent introduction to transactions in a loosely coupled SOA. Even if you don't already know what the ACID properties of a transaction are all about, you'll understand why they're inappropriate for most web services, and you'll learn the buzzwords of the Business Transaction Protocol. (31-page PDF, or HTML version.)
Posted Sunday, August 18, 2002 6:52:24 PM  

Phil Becker on Passport. Last week I reported on the Federal Trade Commission's Microsoft Consent Decree (a worthwhile read in its own right). Although there has been much criticism of the decree as being no more than a "sorry, we won't do it again" slap on the wrist, Phil Becker has identified a number of interesting lessons to be learned.

  • The level of concern people have about controlling their identity information has been repeatedly underestimated by many in the industry as the focus on technology.
  • If you aggregate enough of it in a centralized system, the government will eventually take a role in dictating how you must secure and protect it.
  • The Microsoft consent decree marks the first time that government has moved to regulate the specific implementation of a company's security surrounding identity information.
  • A fascinating part of this FTC decree is the implied demand for total transparency in internal procedures when handling identity data.
Posted Sunday, August 18, 2002 10:38:32 AM   

The Stencil Group on UDDI. Brent Sleeper has written another superb paper. (The hits just keep on comin'!) The first section, Introduction: The Evolution of UDDI, is a must-read. For those (myself included) who have been critical of the UDDI charter in the past, Brent explains how, through version 3.0, UDDI has evolved to keep up with the ever-changing web-services landscape. If you start to nod off in the middle section (Brent had to cover some tech details), wake up for Scenario 2 on page 12 of the PDF version.
Posted Thursday, August 15, 2002 12:26:38 AM 

Unintended Loosely-Coupled Consequences. Follow this interesting weblog-based thread. It starts with a thoughtful posting by Phil Wainewright in which he looks at BookWatch Plus, which combines web services from Amazon, Google and BookWatch to find the books most frequently mentioned on weblogs around the Internet. It then lists the most popular sites for those books. (Take the time to grok it.)

Phil Windley continues the discussion, quoting Tim O'Reilly, "Innovation will come from APIs that support 'unintended consequences'," and points out himself that, "the same is true of creating good services, making data available in ways that enable future use, and documenting the resulting APIs so that others can use them. Cool things will happen."
Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2002 11:51:13 PM  

the451 on Grand Central. A particularly provocative article by Rachel Chalmers on SearchWebServices. It's a reality check on Grand Central's business model and execution. Along the way, she sheds light on other segments and players including Flamenco Networks, Talking Blocks, Blue Titan and AmberPoint. [Update August 15, 2002 4:30pm: Don't miss Phil Wainewright's comments.]

and Flamenco Networks. Nick Patience, also of the 451, updated the firm's coverage of Flamenco as well.
Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2002 11:38:56 AM  

Web Hosting Strategies

Paramedics and Neurosurgeons. I hope you enjoy my latest column for The Web Host Industry Review. It's all about MSPs' proactive versus reactive services, and the organizational problems I call escalation bleed and charter blur.
Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2002 4:16:39 PM 

Who's Winning in the Hosting Industry?

[An excerpt from the latest Netcraft survey at]

Presently, the mainstream coverage of the hosting industry is full of doom and gloom. In the last couple of weeks, Digex and Divine have each reported $50M in quarterly losses, and many of the largest companies in the industry such as Worldcom, Global Crossing, and XO, have set a course of huge losses, bankruptcy and SEC investigation.

Given the widespread coverage of these events, people could be forgiven for thinking that it was not possible to operate a hosting company at a profit, or even to grow revenue in the present environment. Yet, amidst the carnage, some companies with more carefully chosen business models have been able grow at rates which would normally be regarded as impressive, but seem outstanding in the current climate.

Taking the hosting companies identified by the Web Server Survey and restricting the analysis to those that have no known financial problems and were already large at the start of the year, shows that eight companies companies have achieved roughly 30% growth [rackspace is 29 and a fraction] since the start of the year, and seem set for 50% year on year growth measured by responding ip addresses.

Hosting Companies with fastest increase in responding IP addresses
January - August 2002

 Hosting Company   January 2002   August 2002   Change  5,485 10,329 88%  8,607 12,373 44%  7,109 10,188 43%  92,052 125,589 36%  24,429 32,752 34%  8,173 10,771 32%  9,791 12,810 31%  9,419 12,176 29%

Leading the table by a wide margin is which offers exceptionally cheap pricing. Rackshack also has an ISP business, which may make its cost of ownership of bandwidth lower than for pure dedicated server vendors.

It is noteworthy that all of the fastest growing companies are all majoring in dedicated servers, although Interland and Crystaltech also have a large shared business. Dedicated servers have proved the most successful segment of the industry, though the largest shared hosters, Alabanza and Pair Networks are also showing good growth, but at a rate below the companies in the table.

Also, noteworthy from Sun's perspective, is that few of the companies continue to offer Cobalt, which was not long ago a defacto standard in the dedicated server industry. Hosters now prefer servers from IBM, Compaq, or no name boxes, with third party control panels. Notably, Rackshack dropped Cobalt near the start of the year, not long after placing the largest ever order for Cobalt servers in December. Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2002 10:44:36 PM 

Ramp^Rate. I've joined this company's team of Expert Advisors. They may look like just another hosting and MSP broker, but they're much more. Based on their proprietary SPY Index, Ramp^Rate has an impressive process to help clients find the best vendor.
Posted Friday, August 16, 2002 8:36:08 AM   

Doug's Appearances

Web Services Reality Check: A Roundtable Discussion
Internet World Fall 2002
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City
October 2, 2002

Hear from a variety of web-service vendors and their customers as they discuss how web services will change the way we do business forever. Discuss the benefits of online services including fast ROI, low TCO, no software implementation or maintenance costs, updates and upgrades in real-time, increase in employee productivity and the pros and cons of Web service products.

Moderator: Doug Kaye, RDS
Panelists: Annrai O'Toole, Executive Chairman, Cape Clear; Patrick Grady, CEO, Talaris; Craig Donato, President and CEO, Grand Central.

SDForum Presentation. The slides from my 6/18/02 presentation, Web Hosting Strategies, and a writeup/review are available in PDF format.

WorldCom and Me. I'm among the featured bloggers in this issue of WorldCom Magazine. Could it be the last? Doh! Too bad I threw my copy in the trash. It may become a collector's item.

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