The IT Strategy Letter
Doug Kaye, RDS Strategies LLC
July 28, 2003 (Subscribe | Forward)

Thoughts on today's hottest topics in information technology. In this edition:

Adopting a Service Mentality. Is your company prepared to be in the services business? Do the various departments, executives, managers, and individuals understand the differences between products and services? If your company has previously delivered software or data in the form of products, it has some important changes to consider. The Internet has already altered the nature of software-product packaging and delivery, and web services will hasten that change. For example, many software products depend on an Internet connection for registration or real-time help facilities. Delivering a service requires a very different mindset than delivering a product. You might think you're delivering the same thing, but you're not.

Consider the difference between cordless phones and cellular phones. You can buy them at the same stores, but the business models and the economics behind them are quite different. Cordless phones are traditional products. You pay for them up front, take them home, and use them. If all goes well, that ends your relationship with the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer, at least as far as that phone is concerned. If the phone fails, you'll once again interact with the manufacturer or the retailer, but it's assumed by all parties that that's a rare occasion.

Cell phones are very different. The cell phone itself is almost incidental to the service; it's the service you're really buying, not the phone. You'll select a cellular phone according to its features and price, but first you'll choose a service according to its coverage, price, and other policies. You'll have an ongoing, long-term relationship with your service provider. If all goes well, your service relationship will outlast your phone, which you may well replace without switching providers.

Consider the warranty differences, too. For the cordless phone, the warranty covers just the hardware. For the cell phone, there's also a service-level agreement. It's not too sophisticated, and it certainly gives the cell-phone provider many outs--but it does give you certain remedies for dropped calls and the like.

If you're currently a software publisher, your primary commitment to the customer is that the software works as promised. The warranty you provide with your software probably only covers the media on which the software is delivered: You'll replace defective CD-ROMs. Most shrink-wrapped software is sold as-is, bugs and all.

But like cellular-phone providers, web-services providers promise to deliver value on an ongoing basis. The relationships (and the revenue streams) are continuous. If you don't continue to meet and anticipate the customer's needs as they change over time, you'll run the risk of losing that customer. Consider these differences carefully as you shift to a services-oriented distribution model. The implications are both subtle and significant.

[The above is an excerpt from Chapter 20: Providing External Services, from Loosely Coupled--The Missing Pieces of Web Services. You can download the rest of the chapter (14 pages) for US$1.95 or the entire book for only US$14.95.]
Posted Saturday, July 26, 2003 12:23:52 PM

Hewett: Are Web Services Hurting the Software Industry? Julian Hewett, chief analyst at Ovum, thinks so. "Hewett believes that Web services is a 'disruptive technology', which may cause enterprises to move away from buying independent software products and instead move to a 'services-based architecture', which improves the outlook for outsourcing and ASPs." [Source: ZDNet Australia]
Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 5:43:57 PM

O'Reilly: The Future of Applications? In a similar vein (how the software industry is changing), here's a good interview with Tim O'Reilly by Robert McMillan prior to the O'Reilly Open Source Convention two weeks ago. Some highlights:

  • "All of the killer apps of the Internet era--Amazon, Google, and They run on Linux or FreeBSD." [This is Tim's important message these days, that Amazon, Google, etc., are applications.]
  • Today's software licenses (including open-source licenses) are insufficient because with applications like Amazon and Google it's the data--not the code--that's being licensed to others. [One no longer distributes software. Rather, one provides access to data through web services. Whatever software is required executes at the publisher's location. And that software per se is of no interest to the consumers of the service.] "The value will be driven up the stack to data."
  • "Amazon really understands that they are becoming a platform. They are becoming the ecommerce engine of an awful lot more of the Internet than people realise."
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2003 8:21:01 PM

Hagel: The Pitfalls of Early Web Services Adoption. John writes, "Web services technology is delivering real business value today -- that's the good news. Early adopters are generally not getting the balance right between near-term business impact and long-term architectural direction -- that's the bad news...There are few, if any, examples of companies systematically surveying the highest impact business areas for Web services deployment. The result is that near-term business impact is generally sub-optimized...Opportunistic, one-off deployments of the technology may solve near-term business problems but, unless they are designed to be consistent with a broader architectural vision, they will contribute nothing towards longer-term value creation." [Read the complete essay in John's weblog, July 16, 2003]
Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 1:46:57 PM

Competing Specs: Rivalry Bogs Down Web Services. Or is the battle essentially over? The latest fight is between Microsoft/IBM/BEA's new WS-Reliable Messaging (WS-RM) and Web Services Reliability (WS-R) submitted by Sun, Oracle, and others to OASIS in February. This is a critical component for advanced web services, and some analysts see the continued rift between these groups as a significant barrier to progress. But the people I speak to when I want to find out what's really going on tell me not to worry. Microsoft and IBM carry so much clout, they say, that it's a non-issue. WS-RM will push out WS-R in relatively short order.

Update: Phil Wainewright thinks Standards dissent is overblown.
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2003 8:34:01 PM

Gartner: Web Services Spending Down But Not Out. "Shrinking IT budgets have forced corporations to cut back on Web services spending, but such projects still remain a top priority, according to a Gartner report released Wednesday." Some media outlets focused on the positive side of this report, while others emphasized the negative. [Source: MSNBC News]
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2003 4:26:39 PM

Verbose XML : HTTP Compression for Web Services. With all the talk about the verbosity of XML, I wonder if the existing compression capabilities of HTTP 1.1 aren't a reasonable solution. Certainly, this doesn't make XML any faster to parse, and it applies only to web services over HTTP, but it's an existing standard that's widely implemented. GZIP compression of XML should be reasonably effective. This article by S. Radhakrishnan on IBM developerWorks inspired this question.

I'm sure my readers will help me here. Are the HTTP 1.1 compression capabilities already in use in web-services contexts? Are they effective?
Posted Friday, July 25, 2003 9:55:35 AM

Windley: Pipelining the Web. In yet another good InfoWorld article, Phil Windley compares four alternatives for web-services active intermediaries:

Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 4:04:53 PM

Collaxa: Orchestration. Catching up on old (some very old) reading, I came across this February 2002 PDF white paper published by Collaxa. It's a good introduction to orchestration and the need for asynchronous messaging.
Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 4:11:55 PM

ZapThink: Portals and Web Services. Ron and Jason's latest ZapFlash newsletter explains the role of the user interface in web services.
Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 3:58:07 PM

Rodgers: Getting to Grips With Web Services. "Regardless of scale, early adopters of web services agree on one key issue: if you don't plan your services management strategy at the outset, you're heading for trouble...Whether the motivation is to manage diversity, unpredictability or change, the message is the same: be prepared, or you'll face mounting problems." [Source: Keith Rodgers,]
Posted Saturday, July 26, 2003 1:02:47 PM

Arthur: The Future Rests in the Hands of CIOs. According to economist W. Brian Arthur, Citibank professor at the Santa Fe Institute, in an interview with CIO magazine, "This country's one and only economic driver for the next several decades rests solely in the hands of CIOs." That's a bold statement and one that seems to fly right in the face of the IT Doesn't Matter Anymore mindset. [Source: Phil Windley]
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2003 8:56:09 PM

Linthicum: "Management by Magazine." That's a great phrase I heard from David Linthicum at the Burton Group Catalyst conference two weeks ago. He was referring to the mistake of making decisions based on what you read in the trade press.
Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 2:32:16 PM

LAMP. Okay, so I'm 2.5 years behind on this one, but maybe you are, too. "LAMP" is an acronym for the standard (or at least common) open source web platform based on Linux, Apache, mySQL, and Perl|Python|PHP. [Thanks, Anne.]
Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 3:52:05 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.

The following IT Conversation is new since the last edition of the IT Strategy Letter:

Phil Wainewright Talks About Web-Service ASPs. In the latest IT Conversation, Phil Wainewright, CEO of Procullux Ventures and publisher of explains how this new breed of online outsourcers (such as differ from the old ASPs. Who should outsource and what applications should they outsource? What can we learn from the PeopleSoft/Oracle/J.D. Edwards situation? Phil explains his concept of "pluggable automation," to what extent it's realistic today, how to select and manage ASPs, and why online outsourcing is better than casual sex.
[stream--download--discuss, 5.7 mb, 25 minutes, recorded 7/1/03]
Phil has posted a partial transcript.
Posted Monday, July 21, 2003 6:02:45 AM

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


  • Entire book: US$14.95
  • 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 using PayPal or BitPass. 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:

"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.)

CDBI Recommends "Loosely Coupled" "Finally we are starting to see some decent books on Web Services that go beyond the minutiae of XML programming at one extreme, or provide more depth than overview hype at the other. Doug Kaye's 'Loosely Coupled' is one such book." [Source: Lawrence Wilkes at CDBI Forum; Bronze (free) membership required]
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2003 4:11:20 AM

Presentations, Conferences, and Webcasts

SDForum--Web-Services SIG. (Presentation) September 9, 2003, San Francisco. Where is today's sweet spot of web-services technologies? I'll explore the technologies that aren't yet ready for prime time: security, transactions, reliable asynchronous messaging, orchestration and choreography, QoS, contracts and other business issues, infrastructure, and the big one: industry-specific semantics. Then I'll explain why this may not be the time to embark on complex projects, and show you how to determine optimum project start dates.


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), John McDowall (CTO, 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