The IT Strategy Letter
Doug Kaye, RDS Strategies LLC
September 30, 2003 (Subscribe)

It's been a while since the last IT Strategy Letter, so there's a lot to catch up on.

IT Conversations: We're Back! After a 4-week hiatus, during which I built the new web site and updated the recording studio, I've posted two terrific new interviews with John Hagel and Tim O'Reilly.

Some of the web site's new features include:

  • A complete site redesign. ( is now separate from the corporate site,
  • Improved MP3 streaming along with an FAQ forum for those who encounter problems streaming or downloading.
  • Follow-up ballots sent out by email, and a Rate-It button allowing you to tell me which shows you like most.
  • A Most-Popular list, which will be updated dynamically once I've received a statistically significant number of ratings. For now it's based on the number of downloads and stream-start requests.
  • Two RSS feeds, one that contains the MP3 files and one with only the descriptions.
  • A description of my studio and the behind-the-scenes technology.

Please visit the new site, listen to a few IT Conversations, and complete my brief survey. Let me know what you think and what you'd like to hear in the future.

IT Conversation: John Hagel on IT Strategies. John Hagel III may be more frequently associated with the dot-com era boom--and bust--than any other consultant. He spent 18 years at McKinsey & Company where he founded and led the e-commerce practice from 1993-2000, and he co-wrote two of the most influential and controversial dot-com era books, Net Gain (published in 1997) and Net Worth (published in 1999).

In his latest book, Out of the Box--Strategies for Achieving Profits Today and Growth Tomorrow Through Web Services, Hagel is once again on the leading edge, evangelizing the benefits of value-chain integration.

In this IT Conversation, John explains why he considers web services to be a "deceptively disruptive technology" and why he's an advocate for web-services strategies that focus on the edge of the enterprise rather than lower-return internal integration projects. "Companies are losing opportunities by not thinking systematically about the technology," he says.

Why aren't we seeing more of these multi-party integration projects? In part because of a flaw in current trends in CIO incentive structures. CIOs and IT mangers, he says, are expected to "avoid risk, and keep things running." It's the equivalent, he says, of the corporate counsel. "CIOs and IT managers don't get rewarded for major new business-value created, but they often get fired if things blow up."

And the vendors? John gives them low marks for doing "an awful job of marketing web services." They suffer from what John refers to as "the narcotic of the mega-sale."

John also responds to Nick Carr's IT Doesn't Matter article earlier this year in Harvard Business Review. John says the article "plays to the mood of the executive suite today. It reinforces all their worst instincts."
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2003 10:41:33 PM

IT Conversation with Tim O'Reilly: The Software Paradigm Shift. "We're at the end of the personal-computing era. We're at the beginning of something profoundly different."

Ask most people what software they use, and you're not likely to hear Linux. Yet many of the most popular web sites are based on Linux and other open-source tools. Tim says the operating system no longer matters--no more than the browser or the CPU matters. Applications now live above the level of a single device or operating system. The "paradigm failure" is that people don't understand the importance of sites like, eBay, and Google, because they are so locked into the PC application model. "We're commoditizing software in the same way as hardware was commoditized in the '80s," he says, "and value is being driven up the stack to next-generation information services and applications."

Get to know the man behind the animal-woodcut covers that fill our shelves. His mission: "Technology transfer--helping important technologies become more widespread" and to "create more value than we capture."

Many forget how influential O'Reilly & Associates was during the early days of the Internet. They created Global Network Navigator (GNN), the first portal and serious e-commerce web site, which they sold to AOL, who proceeded to drop the ball. (Tim tells us why he doesn't regret selling GNN.) And remember Internet In a Box, a collaboration of O'Reilly and Spry Software?

All of this and more in a great IT Conversation with publisher Tim O'Reilly.

McDowall: "What we have still not figured out is how to weave together solutions from disparate services. Once we do that the paradigm shift will happen and the OS will be irrelevant - maybe the network will become the OS." [Source: John McDowall's weblog]
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2003 2:38:48 PM

McGrath: Moving Mountains with Tweezers. Sean McGrath explains, "I bought an MP3 player to perform two functions for me. Firstly, to allow me to listen to lectures and tutorials from geeks and computer scientists that are available in MP3 format from sites such as and IT Conversations. This stuff is great to while away the hours traveling that go with the territory if you are a customer facing, consultant-type person." [Source: PC World, Australia]
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2003 5:47:14 AM Audiocasts. It appears that CNET Radio is not longer producing a daily program. However, they've posted topic-specific audio programs that are, in fact, superior to the former show. Specific shows so far:

Unfortunately you can't just download MP3s. You can only stream using Real Audio or Microsoft Media Player.
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2003 6:35:07 PM

Geer, et al: Risks of a Computing Monoculture. (PDF) One of the most newsworthy events of the past weeks was the publication of this paper about the risks to society from a Microsoft-dominated computing monoculture by a group of leading computer security scientists (Dan Geer, Rebecca Bace, Peter Gutmann, Perry Metzger, John S. Quarterman, Charles Pfleeger, and Bruce Schneier).

Most of the world's computers run Microsoft's operating systems, thus most of the world's computers are vulnerable to the same viruses and worms at the same time. The only way to stop this is to avoid monoculture in computer operating systems, and for reasons just as reasonable and obvious as avoiding monoculture in farming. Microsoft exacerbates this problem via a wide range of practices that lock users to its platform. The impact on security of this lock-in is real and endangers society.

Posted Thursday, September 25, 2003 9:43:38 AM

If you don't think this is a big deal, consider that Reuters reported Dan Geer, one of the report's authors, was fired over it.

AtStake confirmed that technology officer Dan Geer was no longer with the company, but would not say if he resigned or was fired. An AtStake statement said Geer was "no longer associated with the company" as of Tuesday, the eve of the report's release. It added that Geer's "participation in and release of the report was not sanctioned by AtStake.... The values and opinions of the report are not in line with AtStake's views."

Ouch! [Source: Scott Loftesness]

Schmeltzer: Semantic Integration--Loosely Coupling the Meaning of Data. ZapThink's Ron Schmelzer writes that companies he meets with are under the impression that they should integrate their data, not their applications. In many ways, they're right in that in a well-designed loosely coupled SOA, the application should be invisible. "...users won't be required -- or even able -- to know if the data they are consuming originated in a database, an enterprise application, a file system, another company, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, in a Web Services-based SOA, the data users consume are entirely decoupled from the source of the data."

But hiding the application isn't enough. One must also hide the internal structure of the data. "Developers often think not of the data itself but rather the structure of those data: schemas, data types, relational database constructs, file formats, and so forth...[but] these various data structure representations actually get in the way. How information is stored and represented interferes with the meaning of that information."
Posted Monday, September 29, 2003 7:17:44 AM

Lane: Are Web Services Really the Answer? "[Web services are] the next big thing. It's supposed to solve a lot of problems...But it won't; it just won't. There are standards, and certainly messaging and integration are easier, but we don't yet know how to handle the semantic differences between industrial messages that are coming from suppliers to OEMs to whatever." [From a speech by Ray Lane, General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers at the recent AlwaysOn Summit.] Amen.
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2003 11:59:34 PM

Vasters: "Services" in SOA. This essay has a number of good examples of services and why objects (which aren't services!) don't cut it for widely distributed and loosely coupled systems. Clemens points out the importance of separating data and code--quite the opposite of the objectives of OO.

"If the message contract and the description of types are sufficiently precise, a service...should never have to come back to the caller with an 'invalid argument' exception." Services need an unambiguous way to validate input such as restricting a percentage to be 0<=x<100. Trying doing that with objects and methods! Web services accomplish this using XML Schema, etc.

Clemens write that SOAs are, "in a sense, a return to quite a few of the good old principles of structured programming and batch processing...We rely much more on the abstraction and tighter definition that data contracts provide compared to what can be expressed in a programming model."
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2003 11:38:44 PM

Galexia: More on Liberty. Galexia Consulting of Australia has posted a valuable paper with case studies and resources about Liberty Alliance.
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2003 9:56:21 PM

Gralla: Web Services and the Data Center of Tomorrow. In this two-part column, Preston Gralla looks at IBM's and Sun's visions for utility/grid computing. IBM uses web-services standards and protocols at the heart of its Globus Toolkit 3.0 (GT3). (See the Globus Alliance website.) But even IBM's Kerrie Holley believes "we may be five to ten years away from taking full advantage of powerful grids." In the meantime, "IBM will be using [web services] for workload management and control" perhaps as early as next year.

"In the words of Sun Software Chief Technology Officer, John Fowler, 'In the future, the management of the data center will move from managing boxes to managing services.'" He sees a three-stage process of enterprises moving toward the data center of the future:

  1. Web services to express service interfaces to applications.

  2. Identity systems, directories, and portals to describe the entire data center and all of its infrastructure.

  3. Management technologies that let you change your data center on an as-needed basis.

Fowler says, "changes are already underway. A variety of enterprises are already at stages 1 and 2 of the process." [Source: The Web Services Advisor]
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2003 11:53:53 PM

Kaye: The Importance of Newsletter Marketing. "Email newsletters are one of the great bargains in marketing. They keep your company in front of your customers on a regular basis for very little cost. Newsletters aren't right for every audience--I wouldn't recommend them when targeting the nursing home crowd--but if you're in the web-hosting business, there's a good chance that 100% of your customers and prospects use email, making newsletters a good medium." [My August '03 column for the Web Host Industry Review]
Posted Monday, September 29, 2003 7:30:23 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:

"This book provides an excellent explanation of why companies should be looking at Web services. It approaches the topic with an honest and straightforward description of the problem space Web services are targeted to address and the characteristics/short comings of those technologies as they exist today and as they are expected to evolve. Perfect for IT decision makers who are evaluating how/where Web services fit in their corporate IT strategy."

--James Snell, IBM, author Programming Web Services with SOAP
(Read more reviews.)

The Amazon Top Ten. As of this morning, my new book is the #10 bestseller on Amazon's search results for "web services." That's out of 733 results. And #1 is "eBay for Dummies."
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2003 9:42:50 AM

Three weeks later, it's still at #9.

Presentations, Conferences, and Webcasts

Digital ID World (Conference) October 15-17, 2003, Denver, Colorado. I'm moderating a panel entitled, The Role of Identity in Securing Web Services Panel members include Tony Scott (CTO, General Motors), Mark O'Neill (CTO, Vordel), John McDowall (CTO, Grand Central Communications), Jamie Lewis (CEO, The Burton Group), and Atul Tulshibagwale (CEO, Trustgenix).


ISPCon (Conference) October 20-22, 2003, Santa Clara, California. Web Services Opportunities in the Data Center. Web Services are one of the hottest topics in IT, but what does it mean for outsourcers? In this session, I'll explain the web-services infrastructure opportunities, and provides a roadmap for outsourcing vendors. Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 3:00pm - 4:00pm.


East Bay IT Group (Presentation) October 22, 2003, Pleasanton, California. The Missing Pieces of Web Services. Not all of the legitimate promises of web services can be fulfilled today. I'll 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. I'll also show you how to plan the timing of your complex web-services projects. Tuesday, October 22, 2003, 6:30pm.


ISP Exchange (Conference) October 28-29, 2003, Las Vegas. What's Next for Web Services? Web Services are an interesting proposition for organizations and service providers. They have been labeled as the technology that will revolutionize enterprise applications. Enterprises are increasingly exploring web services to integrate business applications. I'll give my views on web services, and the available business opportunities for service providers. Wednesday, October 29, 2003, 8:00 - 9:00 a.m.


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


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

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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