The IT Strategy Letter
May 19, 2003 (Subscribe)

Bookwatch: Loosely Coupled--The Missing Pieces of Web Services is still new and therefore somewhat hard to find. Here are some tips as of today:

  • NerdBooks: US$27.19 and in stock. Best price for U.S. orders.
  • US$27.99, 2-3 days.
  • $31.99, 2-3 days (some days "unavailable").
  • Not in stock yet. :-(
  • CAN$39.73 (30% discount), ships in 4-6 weeks
  • RDS Press: US$39.99, direct from us, ships within 24 hours.
    (Not the cheapest, but the best source for fast or non-US delivery.)

Review of the Week:

"Highly recommended if you want to move from a position of being skeptical of XML over to a position of saving money and time by actually applying XML in your organization."

--Mark O'Neill, CTO, Vordell, Author of Web Services Security
(Read more reviews.)

Gartner Says: Pull the Plug on Passport. "The recently discovered security flaw in Passport will likely delay demand for that service, and other single sign-on services, until next year, the analyst firm says...Gartner says the Passport vulnerability will delay strong demand for such identity services until the end of 2004." [Source:]

My take? Forget demand -- there isn't any, at least among consumers, who have repeatedly shown they don't see any benefit from this technology. Single sign-on is already a big deal within the intranet, where Passport is irrelevant. In retail ecommerce federated identity may get shoved down their throats by vendors, but I don't see it, even by late 2004.
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2003 6:42:24 PM

More Confusion: SOAs, OO, and Web Services. I don't want to pick on anyone in particular, but this article in the Australian Computerworld is typical of the misunderstandings that are still being propagated by the uninformed press regarding SOAs and loose coupling. Let's see if I can help...

  • Service-oriented architectures (SOAs) are not necessarily built from "components." Components are a concept from OOP. Perfectly good services can be built from non-object oriented scripting languages, for example. Lest you think web services require OO back ends, Micro Focus announced a web-services interface for COBOL.
  • Components are not necessarily loosely coupled. The concepts are orthogonal.
  • Swapping components to achieve the re-use of code is not the same thing as interchangeable services, which achieve reuse at the service level. Code doesn't have to be portable to be reusable. The service is reused where it is.
  • Event-driven architectures (EDAs--the topic of the Computerworld article) are also orthogonal to SOAs. EDAs don't replace SOAs. It's not an either/or thing. Services can be event-driven (asynchronous) or not (synchronous).
  • EDAs are tied to asynchronous processing and messaging, and in that sense (i.e., in the dimension of time) EDAs are loosely coupled.

According to the article, Roy Schulte of Gartner expects the emergence of standards for event processing to appear beginning in 2005 and for complex event processing (CEP) systems to become mainstream in 2007. (I predict 2004 for the former, but I have a track record of being overly optimistic about such things.) David Luckham, a co-founder of Rational Software and author of Power of Events, predicted that CEP "will start creeping into web services, middleware and application servers in 2005. By 2008, he foresees the emergence of CEP standards, languages and complex event-pattern search engines. Ubiquity of CEP will come in 2012, he forecasted."
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2003 6:14:04 PM

Enterprise Software's End. Phil Wainewright linked to this column by Paul Strassmann, who has the credentials to support his opinions. In addition to the passages quoted by Phil, consider these:

Web services make it possible to unburden the CIO of an organization from housekeeping and allow him to make IT a source of competitive advantage. Through loose coupling of services, the Web environment is more suited to the prevailing conditions where mergers, acquisitions and supplier and customer collaboration call for interapplication interoperability in a matter of days instead of years, as currently dictated by ERP initiatives.
I agree with this, except with regard to web services making IT a source of competitive advantage. As web services become commonplace, the period of competitive advantage will end, to be replaced by a world in which not using web services is a disadvantage. Think of FAX and email. Do they give your organization a competitive advantage? Where would you be without them?

Why then is the adoption of Web services so slow? Organizations can shift to Web service-based integration only after they restructure the way IT is managed and shift attention from computing to communications. They must also accept a move away from ownership of the means of computing and be willing to purchase most of their transactions as a service.

The comment regarding ownership is right on, but if you take a step back, I think you'll see that the move to web services isn't slow at all. The vendors and standards bodies are rolling out their deliverables faster than at any time in the past. But they're not done -- many pieces are still missing -- so most IT shops can't move forward with large-scale projects just yet.
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2003 7:31:58 AM

BPEL4WS vs. WSCI. According to John Taschek in eWeek, the battle for a web-services choreography specification is over, with BPEL4WS having been declared the winner over WSCI. John says WSCI "...was officially left stranded when Microsoft, IBM and BEA released BPEL to OASIS in mid-April, this killing any competing choreography standard." Look for more on this important topic in future newsletters.
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2003 8:57:48 PM   

A Framework for SOA. CDBI offers this framework for planning SOA implementation, with candidate deliverables for architects, and invite feedback. They've coined the phrase "Business Services Bus" to tie together services into logical sets that reflect the structure of businesses. Good ideas, but instead of "the logical grouping and design of each bus ensures that there is minimal duplication plus uniformity in naming, ordering, and types of parameters" I'd like to see them focus on more loosely coupled concepts. Specifically, the functions of a department should be expressed in a set of coarse-grained documents and XML schema.
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2003 4:55:38 PM

Most Enterprises Also Failed With Components. Also on CBDI Forum, author David Sprott (I believe) wrote. "Enterprises are discovering many of the core issues that inhibited use of software components apply equally to Web Services. Is this a reason for avoiding Web Services, or are there ways to over come them?" His answers are (to summarize):

  • Make a real business case.
  • Find the silver bullet.
  • Use an external platform -- Pay as you go.
  • Find services that are not business critical.

Doesn't make sense to me. If you're going to implement web services that aren't business critical, then they're probably rather simple and may not even need a real business case. More likely, you'll be using web services in these situations as just the "right way" to accomplish an integration task. It's when you implement services that are truly business critical that you need both a robust deployment platform as well as a justifiable business case. I refer to these as "complex" web services, and they're those that also require some degree of strategic planning.
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2003 5:21:51 PM

Loosely Coupled from Ecademy Press. My new book is being published by Ecademy Press in a special edition for members of The Ecademy, headquartered in the U.K.
Posted Thursday, May 15, 2003 9:36:39 AM

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The IT Strategy Letter is published weekly by RDS Strategies LLC. Much -- but not all -- of the content is published earlier in Doug Kaye's weblogs.


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"...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