The IT Strategy Letter
July 7, 2003 (Subscribe)

Loosely Coupled--Now Available as a PDF (at a 63% Discount)

  • Entire book: US$16.95
  • Major parts (4 total): US$5.95 each
  • Individual chapters (21 total): US$1.95 each

As an alternative to the hardcopy edition, you can now download my latest book in PDF format at a substantial discount. We're starting with BitPass, a new and convenient online micropayment and content-management technology. It's easy to setup a BitPass account--even easier if you already use PayPal. From the time you purchase the eBook version, you have 7 days during which you can download the content up to 10 times. The PDF files can be printed, but the text cannot be copied or modified. Review of the Week:

"If you read only one book on Web services, this is it."

--Andrew Astor, Director, WS-I and VP Web Services, webMethods
(Read more reviews.)

Java, Java Everywhere? In his Ahead of the Curve column in the June 23 issue of Infoworld, Tom Yeager asks, "Without .Net, what can Microsoft use to present its software as a unified, integrated offering?" He suggests that Sun's Java has "won" the battle for the mobile/wireless platform. While Sun may indeed have won this battle, Tom misses the big picture: that Sun has lost the war.

On December 23, 2002, a US federal judge ordered Microsoft to include Sun's Java runtime environment with the Windows family of operating systems. Two years earlier, Microsoft settled a lawsuit brought by Sun Microsystems, and agreed to pay Sun $20 million. Sun may have won these battles in the courts, but the victories were largely symbolic because Microsoft managed to find an end-run solution around the attempt to make Java ubiquitous. Microsoft has bigger plans, and they're based on web services. Here's just one example:

Microsoft controls the world's desktops, but it has far less clout in the market for small mobile devices such as PDAs and cell phones. However, rather than roll over and play dead--giving up the mobile market altogether--Microsoft has another opportunity to take the lion's share of mobile-device revenues.

As cell phones and PDAs become commodities, the value of device-resident software (such as operating systems, games, and other programs that run within the devices) will approach zero. Few people will pay more for a Java-based phone than for one that isn't. But the market for extra-cost and remotely hosted services for those devices will continue to increase. These services include mobile e-commerce (m-commerce), instant messaging (IM), location-based services (LBS) such as advertising-driven restaurant finders, and many others.

Java was supposed to be the "write once, run anywhere" technology. Its model is based on portable source and executable intermediate code. Web services, on the other hand, are the "write once, access from anywhere" solution. No porting is required. Services can be utilized from anywhere. There's little inherent value in a programming language, but there's tremendous value in a universally accessible service.

To win the lucrative remotely hosted service business, Microsoft (or anyone else) needed to find a way that its services could work with all mobile devices, not just those based on Java or some other platform. The key was to convince all handheld device manufacturers to use one technology. It could have been Java, in which case Sun would have been able to control the technology used to link the mobile devices to remote services. But that didn't happen. Java may be on a healthy majority of the mobile platforms, but it still isn't ubiquitous.

The only way to convince all vendors to adopt a single interface technology was to truly give it away--not under some strict licensing program as Sun did with Java, but free and unencumbered. Web services is such a technology, and by convincing virtually every vendor to support it, Microsoft guaranteed it will be able to deploy services that can be reached by every device, even those based on Java. It's a brilliant strategy, and one that allowed Microsoft to leapfrog over Java; to make Java a non-issue. The competition is no longer about the language or even the platform. Instead, thanks to web services, vendors' offerings can interoperate at a higher level--above the operating system or programming language.

The agreement by competing vendors to work together to develop full web-services interoperability is a vector that's critical for the emergence and success of web services.

[The above is an excerpt from Loosely Coupled: The Missing Pieces of Web Services.]

Web services--along with SOAP and XML--will be ubiquitous. Java won't be. As much as I like Java (it's been my platform of choice since I first specified it for a major project in 1996), it's just one of many programming languages and runtime environments that compete for the low-value part of the bigger picture.

Flash: Just as I was posting this, CNET's reported, "A federal appeals court dealt a legal setback to Sun Microsystems on Thursday, tossing out most of a preliminary injunction requiring Microsoft to carry its rival's version of an interpreter for the Java programming language."
Posted Friday, June 27, 2003 2:57:00 AM

Suck Less Isn't Progress. This good interview with Kent Beck by Scott Plamondon on IBM developerWorks will make you want to buy Kent's 1999 book, Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, if you haven't read it already. Beck is the father of extreme programming (XP). Some entertaining quips from the interview include:

  • Until you care about answers you can make any program go really fast.
  • Simplicity is about acknowledging the tricks exist but not using them.
  • You're not a designer until you know the tricks, but you're not really a designer until you know when not to use them.
  • Suck less isn't progress.
Posted Tuesday, July 01, 2003 7:42:38 PM

Rethinking Authentication. Carol Coye Benson of Glenbrook Partners has posted a teaser for her new report on "The Impact of the Liberty Alliance Phase 2 Initiative." I've only seen the TOC and a tantalizing 1-page executive overview of the full 32-page report. Carol knows I'll probably disagree with at least some of what she's written. I'm sure the comment, "For consumers, shared authentication will provide a simplified, more streamlined online experience," was written just for me. (Sure, Doug!) But unless she sends me a copy, I'll have to pay $995 like everyone else if I want to argue with her.
Posted Tuesday, July 01, 2003 7:32:29 PM

IBM Tests Web Services SLA Technology. "The SLA enforcing technology will be bundled into WebSphere's enterprise edition in six to 12 months...Smaller Web services players, such as Actional Corp., AmberPoint Inc., Blue Titan Software Inc., Confluent Software Inc., and Digital Evolution Inc., offer some type of SLA management in their offerings; other big players, such as BMC Software Inc. and Computer Associates International Inc., have Web services SLA management on their road maps as well." [Source: eWeek]
Posted Monday, June 30, 2003 3:48:22 PM

Catalog Your Services. META Group analyst Daniel Sholler suggests that, 'IT organizations must inventory and define their catalogs of operational, technical, and business application services. Each service definition should stipulate the appropriate users and use cases for the service, the service interface, and the service level provided as well as the value structure, chargeback and funding approach. These service catalogs should be documented and "marketed" to the intended users both inside and outside the IT organization.' [Source:] Take this one literally. Create a catalog in XML based on WSDL. Don't bother with UDDI.
Posted Tuesday, July 01, 2003 7:48:05 PM

SOAP 1.2 Released. W3C released the latest ratified version of SOAP.
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2003 1:43:19 PM

Ecademy Members' Special Edition of Loosely Coupled. The more than 20,000 members of U.K.-based Ecademy can now purchase a special edition of Loosely Coupled: The Missing Pieces of Web Services. Through an arrangement with RDS Press, the new Ecademy Press offers my new book to their members for only £25.00.
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2003 11:03:38 PM

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 since the last IT Strategy Letter:

Previously announced conversations:

  • 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
  • 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.

Must Be Present to Win. My latest column for The Web Host Industry Review, in which I offer financial advice to small- and medium-sized web-hosting vendors.
Posted Tuesday, July 01, 2003 11:50:26 AM

CIO Radio. I've only been producing IT Conversations for a few weeks, but I've just discovered this treasure-trove of recorded audio interviews going back five years! Make sure you use the Browse by Category pull-down on the upper-right corner to find many more recordings than appear on the front page.
Posted Saturday, July 05, 2003 10:31:44 PM

How to Compare Hosting Vendors. Netcraft has announced an online comparison of 50 of the top web-hosting vendors. Measurements include outages, failed connection requests, DNS resolution time, and first-byte time. The Netcraft report is free. This particular report analyzes hosting vendors, not specific web sites.
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2003 7:48:43 AM

Apache Has Precisely 31 Bugs. "Code in the Apache open source Web server Version 2.1 is on par with that found in commercial equivalents, according to a study by Reasoning, which provides code inspection services." I don't know why they had to do all that reasearch. Just ask anyone who's had to run even a medium-sized web site. If they found "31 software defects in 58,944 lines of source code," I hope they fixed 'em while they were at it. [Source: InfoWorld.]
Posted Tuesday, July 01, 2003 11:56:29 AM

Who Are Those Guys? In case you wonder whether you can rely on the flaky developers of open-source products, consider that "58 percent of the open-source community is made up of professional IT administrators and programmers (with 11 years of professional experience, on average), and 30 percent of them will have to answer to their bosses if they don't write open-source code." That should help make your open-source case for the CFO and the Board of Directors. [Back in March, Chris Kock wrote this interesting sidebar to a feature article on Your Opensource Plan in CIO Magazine.]
Posted Tuesday, July 01, 2003 7:23:33 PM

Good Luck to the Echo Project. RSS has been a messy specification, subject to personal politics and name calling among people claiming control over it. Now, Sam Ruby has formed The Echo Project to develop a solid successor that transcends the pettiness and adopts the best ideas from all sources. No politics--just good design with input from everyone. It's a bold move with incredible support from the blogging and content-management communities. It appears that Sam's employer (IBM) have given him their blessing to spend time on this. I wish the project well. Count me among the supporters!
Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2003 7:50:04 PM

July 7: A Big Week for Conferences. So many conferences this week, I had trouble figuring out which one(s) to attend:

  • The O'Reilly Open Source Convention is in Portland, all week. Terrific presenters covering sessions on every nook and cranny of open-source software.
  • Also in Portland and at the same time is the Applied XML Developers Conference. Microsoft, the leading anti-open source guys, are behind this one, but to be fair it does include some Java and non-Microsoft sessions.
  • Kevin Werbach's Supernova explores the decentralization of communications, software, and media. Some terrific presentations are planned, July 8-9 in Washington D.C.
  • In San Francisco, the Burton Group is holding their Catalyst Conference with two tracks: Network and Telecom Strategies; and Directory and Security Strategies.

I was all set to attend the Open-Source Conference, particularly since I'm planning a number of IT Conversations on open source. But I finally opted for the Burton Group conference. I'm working on some digital-identity projects, and's closer to home. Not presenting, just listening and learning. Look for me there.
Posted Sunday, June 29, 2003 11:33:48 PM

Presentations, Conferences, and Webcasts

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. I'll be presenting The Missing Pieces of Web Services after lunch on Monday, November 3.


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