The IT Strategy Letter
Doug Kaye, RDS Strategies LLC
October 29, 2003 (Subscribe)

Other than 11 days immersed in the Mill Valley Film Festival, I've spent most of October on the road giving presentations. There's a lot to catch up on.


Mark Roberti: RFID. [an IT Conversation] Mark provides an in-depth introduction to Radio Frequency ID tags--the hottest, new, but 50 year-old technology. Why has it taken so long? Mark says it's been the high cost and lack of standards. (Passive tags cost as little as US$0.06, but only if you buy 500,000,000 of them. More typically, expect to pay US$0.40-US$0.50, or US$10.00 or more for active tags.)

Wal-Mart's RFID experiments have been in the news lately (mostly in reports of privacy concerns), but Mark says the press mangled the story, and he sets the record straight. More recently, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it expects its 26,000 suppliers to use RFID tags beginning as early as January 2005.

In this interview we dig into the privacy concerns that have been raised regarding RFID usage, and look at some of the more unusual successful RFID deployments such as how the Scottish Courage brewery tagged its kegs and thereby saved US$14 million--enough to fund the acquisition of another brewery.

Mark wraps up with his analysis of the obstacles that remain for the widespread deployment of RFID, the timeframe over which it will occur, and his recommendations for how to track the evolution of this technology.

[Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. Previously he was a senior writer at the Industry Standard and served as managing editor of Information Week. Mark has reported on business and technology for major publications worldwide since 1985. His work has appeared in Business 2.0, Fortune, The Asian Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, and the New York Times.]
Posted Friday, October 24, 2003 8:01:17 PM

Tom Parenty: Digital Defense. [an IT Conversation] Tom Parenty's mission is to create a common language with which techies and managers can discuss the security of business activities. He has been a computer scientist with the U.S. National Security Agency, and since the mid-1980s held security-related positions in the software industry before going independent four years ago. He has testified before a number of US House of Representatives and Senate Committees, and has a new book just out entitled Digital Defense, What You Should Know About Protecting Your Company's Assets.

Tom sees two trends that demand this collaboration: that organizations are sharing more information, and that they're doing so without the traditional human intermediaries that act as filters. Traditional security, he says, is designed to "protect the good folks inside from the bad folks outside." But the "line between insider and outsider is becoming increasingly blurred."

And just how do you protect your data once it's out of your control? It's not easy, he says. "Knowing that a company has a firewall and uses virus protection doesn't provide any meaningful information about how safe it is to conduct business with that firm over the Internet." Tom also explains how to think of security as an enabling technology. "If you want to find opportunities in which information security can promote innovation, focus on removing limitations of time, locale, and scale."
Posted Saturday, October 11, 2003 9:45:09 PM

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.)

Farber: Federated Identity and PingID. The Digital ID World conference in Denver last week was great--more so for meeting the other attendees than the sessions. They keynote presentations were excellent however. In this article, Dan Farber of ZDNet tells us what he valued at the conference, including (CTO of General Motors) Tony Scott's excellent keynote presentation about his company's project to use the Liberty Alliance specifications to extend GM's employee portal to allow access to external benefits providers, worldwide. It turned out to be much more complex than anticipated and took far longer.

On a related panel, Jamie Lewis, CEO of Burton Group, expressed an opinion that Liberty Alliance and the competing WS-Federation spec were separated more by politics than by architectural differences.

Dan also had a chance to speak with Andre Durand of Ping Identity, recently funded by Jeremy Allaire of General Catalyst Partners. I hope to speak with Andre in an upcoming edition of IT Conversations.
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 5:19:59 PM

Koch: CIO Magazine's Hype. Phil Wainewright said it well in his Loosely Coupled weblog: "It suits journalists to present the standards process as a bitter struggle fought by unscrupulous vendors. But sometimes their imagination gets the better of them."

This article by Executive Editor Christopher Koch gives an alarmist and, in some cases, incorrect view of the web-services standards scene. He wrote, for example, "No fewer than four organizations--Liberty Alliance, Oasis, W3C and WS-I--are vying to preside over the process, each with different goals, each with differing degrees of power and influence."

But it's way off track. Liberty and WS-I, for instance, have very unique charters that don't overlap the other bodies in any substantive way. Unfortunately, when a widely-read magazine like CIO gets it wrong about something I know, I find I have to question what they report about things that are less familiar to me.

But Phil goes so far as to write, "The truth of the matter, I fear, is that CIOs don't actually want the standards process to succeed." He must be speaking to a set of very different CIOs than the ones I meet with. Without exception, the CIOs I know want web-services standards ASAP.

There have been a few interesting follow-ups to this. As Phil pointed out, David Chappell, who was interviewed for the article, has posted a response to clarify his position. Other posted comments include those from Jonathan Robie.

My take is that the web-services standards process is proceeding reasonably well given the inherent competitive and political pressures. Perhaps people are reacting to the fact that they're watching so much of the process, as they would by taking a tour of a sausage factory. (i.e., More than you want to see.)
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 2:15:52 PM

Bloomberg: Code Reuse and SOAs. In the most recent ZapFlash newsletter, analyst Jason Bloomberg discussed the implications of code re-use on web services and vice versa. I know there's some good stuff in there, but I wish Jason would give us some specific examples. Without them, it's just feel-good, nod-yes kinda stuff. ZapThink is hosting an all-day seminar in New York on Tuesday. If I were in NYC this week, I'd be there in a ZapFlash.
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 4:59:35 PM

Anderson: SCO vs. Linux. "The strategy is familiar: Buy up an old bit of code, and turn it into a goldmine." This is a reasonably objective analysis by Lane Anderson in Connect Magazine. I knew Ransom Love, the former CEO of SCO, during his days at Novell. Good guy, and not at all the kind of person who would be behind this type of desperate and litigious strategy. He's quoted as saying, "This isn't the way I'd go about it...I hate the litigation shop label." [Source: Phil Windley]
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 2:55:48 PM

Data Center Markup Language. Computer Associates, EDS, and Opsware have teamed up to spearhead a specification "to describe data center environments, dependencies between data center components and the policies governing management and construction of those environments." But already the controversy over the spec has begun. Although second-tier vendors such as BEA, Tibco, Mercury, and Akamai are on board, some pundits are pointing to the notably absent major players such as HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Sun. And if DCML will help us manage the data center, where's Cisco? I'd track this effort, but don't take it seriously until you see the support of the folks who make the systems we put into our data centers.
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2003 5:14:03 AM

Park: Spam--The Long-Term Solution. Is charging a penny to send an email message a good solution to spam? The idea has been floating around for a while, and here are some recent opinions, beginning with Don Park's post from mid-October. Follow ups include this from Tim Bray and a response from Don.
Posted Monday, October 13, 2003 9:25:11 AM

Bruner: Micropayments. Rick's open letter to Tony Pierce, Clay Shirky and PayPal. [Source: Scott Loftesness]
Posted Saturday, October 11, 2003 9:46:55 AM

Spolsky: Unicode. "The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)" Joel Spolsky has a great explanation, inspired by his discovery of how poorly PHP handles anything other than ASCII.
Posted Friday, October 10, 2003 6:25:04 PM

Presentations, Conferences, and Webcasts

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"


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