The IT Strategy Letter
June 23, 2003 (Subscribe)

Now Hear This! IT Conversations: New Ideas Through Your Headphones!

IT Conversations are recorded (audio) interviews with the gurus of information technology. They're a new production of RDS Strategies LLC, and we hope you'll enjoy them. Stream IT Conversations to your desktop or laptop, or download them into your MP3 player and listen to them while you drive, workout, or sit on the beach with that piña colada.

New conversations since the last newsletter:

  • Brent Sleeper of the Stencil Group, on web services
  • Eric Norlin of PingID, on digital identity
  • Russ Jones of Glenbrook Partners, on micropayments
  • Rich Miller, editor,, on the data-center market
  • Jeff Barr, all about's web services
  • Mark O'Neill, CTO of Vordel, on web services security

Previously announced conversations:

  • Eric Newcomer, CTO of IONA, explains loosely coupled transactions.
  • Phil Windley, former CIO of the State of Utah discusses web services.
  • Tony Greenberg, CEO of Ramp^Rate, talks about C&W leaving the U.S.
  • WebV2 describes their "business-process connectivity" solution.

Please take our 11-question survey (after you've listened to at least one conversation.) IT Conversations is a new feature for us as well as for you. Tell us what you like, what you don't like, and what you'd like to see...or hear. You'll have a significant impact on the future directions of this service.

A Conversation with Russ Jones, of Glenbrook Partners about Micropayments. Pioneers First Virtual and DigiCash couldn't survive, so why does Apple's iTunes think it can make money at 99¢ per download? In Japan, NTT DoCoMo acts as a payment gateway for thousands of merchants. Can MSN, AOL,, or eBay (PayPal) do the same in the US? Could micropayments be the solution for spam?

[stream--download--discuss, 4.6mb, 20 minutes, recorded 6/11/03]
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2003 9:58:31 AM

A Conversation with Eric Norlin of PingID in which we discuss Digital Identity:

  • Single sign-on, and federated identity
  • Cross-domain security
  • Microsoft's Passport and the Liberty Alliance
  • National digital IDs in the U.S.?
  • The IT impact of recent U.S. legislation such as HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Digital IDs and spam
  • Reconciling privacy in the U.S. and EU.
[stream--download--discuss, 8.5mb, 37 minutes, recorded 6/10/03]
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2003 1:07:09 AM

A Conversation With Mark O'Neill, CTO of Vordel and author of Web Services Security: Is security for web services really all that different from security in other contexts? Mark tells it like it is. Which standards are fully cooked, and which should you avoid? What kinds of attacks will web services be vulnerable to? Are application/XML firewalls the answer?

[stream--download--discuss, 6.6mb, 29 minutes, recorded 6/11/03]
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2003 12:06:45 AM

A Conversation With Jeff Barr who explains's Web Services. More than 27,000 developers have registered to access data in XML format, and they're submitting nearly 10 million requests per day. They have a choice between REST and SOAP. Which one is more popular, and why? Find out what has learned from this experience, and what they recommend to others.

[stream--download--discuss, 3.7mb, 16 minutes, recorded 6/13/03]
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2003 12:04:31 AM

A Conversation With Brent Sleeper of The Stencil Group, in which he explains Web Services Adoption Patterns:

  • Which companies are implementing web services and why?
  • Are their projects large or small?
  • Behind or beyond the firewall?
  • Who's successful, who's not, and why?
  • Will web services kill the traditional EAI vendors?
[stream--download--discuss, 4.4mb, 19 minutes, recorded 6/10/03]
Posted Friday, June 13, 2003 5:17:33 PM

A Conversation With Rich Miller of Rich and I discuss The Wild Data Center Market:

  • Cable & Wireless divests its U.S. operations.
  • Sprint pulls the plug.
  • What will customers do?
  • What should you be planning?
  • Can you get a great deal in colocation?
  • Who's shopping for data centers post-9/11 and why?
  • What's a $100 million data center worth these days?
[stream--download--discuss, 5.1mb, 22 minutes, recorded 6/10/03]
Posted Friday, June 13, 2003 5:16:12 PM

Bookwatch: Loosely Coupled--The Missing Pieces of Web Services is still new (the official publication date is August 2003) and is therefore somewhat hard to find. Here are some tips as of today:

  • NerdBooks: US$27.59 and in stock. Best price for U.S. orders.
  • US$27.99, 2 days, at the moment.
  • $31.99, 2-3 days.
  • £39.99 from a Marketplace Seller. Not direct, yet.
  • CDN$38.69 (30% discount), within 24 hours.
  • 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:

"I was *VERY* pleasantly surprised! Loosely Coupled is a great book: It is comprehensive yet easy to read. It provides thoughtful insight on what web services are and how they can help you address complex integration challenges."

--Edwin Khodabakchian, CEO, Collaxa
(Read more reviews.)

Preparing for Web Services Security. "Perhaps sooner than you expect, you're going to want to add Web services to your Web site or those of your customers. Have you considered the security implications of doing so? Let's take a brief look at the issues surrounding the secure deployment of XML, SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI." [My June 17, 2003 column for The Web Host Industry Review--introductory level]

OO May Not Be the Best for Web Services. In a report entitled Building Web Services - The Future, Jonathan Stephenson writes, "It may come as a shock to read in the CBDI Journal that components and objects may not necessarily be the best future development platform for services." [Source: CDBi Forum. Premium membership required.]
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2003 11:24:17 PM

Web Services Boon for Customers, Not Investors. "According to the findings in a new Deutsche Bank Securities report, it may be difficult for investors to profit from Web services because of how they commoditize the traditional bread and butter markets of IT consultancies and systems integrators." [Source:]

The VC's keep asking me. I tell 'em "security appliances." That's the best investment opportunity I see in web services so far.
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2003 11:18:24 PM

Information Technology in Context. "Nicholas Carr's article in the Harvard Business Review has stirred up a firestorm of controversy about the relevance of IT to business strategy. Datamation columnist George Spafford says before people completely discard what Carr has to say, there are some issues to take into account." [Source: Datamation]

Of the many dozens of articles in response to Carr's, this one is interesting because, like mine, it includes a graph showing the relationship between competitive advantage and the phases of technology adoption.
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2003 11:16:05 PM

Gartner or ZapThink. Regarding my observation that the two analysts firms apparently disagreed over the prospects for systems integrators with regard to web services, Jason Bloomberg of ZapThink replied, "Our research indicates that in the long term (five to seven years out), as companies build SOAs based on Web Services, IT consulting will shift away from integration toward architectural consulting and business process management and optimization, the latter being the primary need. However, in the short term (for the next five years or so), Web Services represent both an approach that simplifies and reduces the cost of integration, both in the point-to-point case and also in for large-scale environments based on n-tier and messaging architectures. So we would definitely agree with Gartner's statement about integrators in the short term -- but that demand will taper off quickly as companies move beyond solving integration problems and begin to build enterprise-class SOAs. (BTW, Gartner is also referring to developers who aren't integrators as well, which was out of scope for our most recent research)."
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2003 8:10:17 PM

Buying Digex Wasn't Such a Good Idea. "The Thornburgh report singled out the [WorldCom] board's approval of the acquisition of Digex Inc., a Laurel-based Web hosting company, in the fall of 2000 as one particularly troublesome deal." [Source: Washington Post]
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2003 7:54:11 PM

Sprint To Exit Hosting Business. "Sprint announced this afternoon that it will exit the web hosting business, and plans to shut down eight huge data centers, lay off 500 workers and take a charge of at least $400 million against its earnings." [Source: Rich Miller, CarrierHotels]

Be sure to listen to my IT Conversation with Rich. He has a fascinating perspective on the continued wild ride in the colocation marketplace.
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2003 3:27:31 PM

Synchronicity and Coupling. Jeff Schneider has been thinking and blogging about whether synchronous interaction is necessarily more tightly coupled than asynchronous messaging. It is, Jeff, and here's why: Synchronous interaction is tightly coupled in time. Asynchrony decouples the participants along this dimension. Consider the difference between IM or telephony (sync) and email (async). With the latter, the participants need not be on line at the same time.

And you don't *need* a message-correlation token when communicating asynchronously (as in email), it's just a feature that's often provided by messaging platforms. You can certainly use the fire-and-forget asynchronous model of email and not bother with explicit correlation if it's not required by the underlying application.

It's not so much that a receiver "doesn't care" from whom a message is sent, for of course it does care. Rather it's the case that the receiver is prepared to accept any message at any time from any sender. That's loose coupling.

As to Jeff's scalability discussion, it's precisely the loose coupling (again, on the time axis) that allows message-based systems to scale so well. A system that can average its load over a 24-hour period can be far less expensive to deploy (10x) than one that must respond within the period of an HTTP or application-layer timeout. The cost is even further reduced by the elimination of the high-availability requirement for such systems.

None of this is to say that there's no place for synchronous architectures. Certainly most applications of web services (by sheer count) are likely to be synchronous, but these are also among the simpler of distributed applications, As the architectures and applications become more complex, the asynchronous model will become increasingly important both for performance and to keep systems loosely coupled.
Posted Monday, June 09, 2003 10:12:32 AM

Tracking Web-Host Switching. Netcraft has developed a technique to identify movements of sites from one hosting provider to another on a monthly basis. Netcraft compares the hosting location of each site found by the Web Server Survey as indicated by the DNS with the equivalent information for the same site in the previous month. Well done--interesting stuff.
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2003 11:00:25 AM

How Many Web Hosting Companies Are There? (Also from Netcraft...) In the U.S., at least 22,000 that have 20 or more sites. BTW, there are now more than 40 million web sites worldwide.
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2003 8:19:23 AM

Web Services: A Manager's Guide. Anne Thomas Manes' new book is now available. I haven't got my copy yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I've enjoyed what she's written in the past. Since they address similar topics and audiences, it would be interesting if one or two people would write comparative reviews of her book and mine.
Posted Friday, June 20, 2003 9:09:47 PM

Presentations, Conferences, and Webcasts

SDForum Web Services SIG. (Presentation) June 24, 2003 (tomorrow!), Mountain View, California. Web Services, The Dark Side. Yes, we're all excited about the potential for web services, and many of us are already implementing them. But what will it take before the big dreams of web services can be realized? In this presentation, Doug Kaye will explore the dark side: security, transactions, reliable asynchronous messaging, orchestration and choreography, QoS, contracts and other business issues, infrastructure, and the big one: industry-specific semantics.


Digital ID World. (Conference) October 15-17, 2003, Denver, Colorado. I'm moderating a panel entitled, Web Services and Digital ID: Where Are We? Panel members include Tony Scott (CTO, General Motors), Mark O'Neill (CTO, Vordel), Craig Donato (CEO, Grand Central Communications), and Jamie Lewis (CEO, The Burton Group).


Web Services Decisions. (Conference) November 3-5, 2003, Atlanta, Georgia. The Missing Pieces of Web Services.


Loosely Coupled: Interoperability for Business Agility. (Webcast) Recorded 4/30/03 with John McDowall, CTO of Grand Central Communications.


Web Services Project Strategies. (Webcast) Recorded 4/21/03 with Brent Sheets at

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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