Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SOA Pilot: Do we get second chance to do it right?

The SOA Pilot is a crucial part of the journey to SOA.

The result of an unsuccessful pilot could be the end of the SOA initiative.

Therefore you have to plan for successful pilot in order to transform the enterprise to SOA based enterprise.

However, the analysis of a SOA Pilot is not as simple as described above.

For instance, a well known SOA expert, Ronald Schmelzer, Zapthink's co-founder wrote a Zapflash titled: The Best SOA Pilots Don't Get the Services Right.

Ronald Schmelzer's thesis is that it is not important to get things right from the beginning because this kind of attempt will surely fail: neither the Business people nor the IT experts knowledge of the specific enterprise Business and IT context is perfect. In addition, the enterprise business requirements are very dynamic, so the probability of significant changes during Architecture planning, Services analysis, design and build is high. Therefore he argues that Agility is the most important goal of the SOA pilot because it will minimize the penalty for changes.

In my opinion minimizing the penalty for changes is very important, but not getting things right in the first steps could be very risky.

SOA is multi layered and complex therefore it is important to get right some aspects from the beginning, while the tolerance level for wrong things in other aspects on the first steps is higher.

In one layer SOA pilot is a specific project addressing well defined project goals similarly to other non-SOA pilot projects.

In a more abstract layer the SOA pilot is a first partial iteration of the SOA architecture, which may require refactoring i.e. its components and their relationships may be "wrong" and changed in the next iterations.

Things to make right from the beginning

  • Choosing the right pilot project

In this respect SOA pilots are similar to other projects pilots. Evaluate possible pilots using criteria such as Visibility, project team, Service Reuse potential in other systems etc..

A successful pilot with very low Visibility could be the last stop in the journey to SOA.

For my consulting assignments I am using a checklist based on my experience. Together with the enterprise's business and IT experts I map and rate potential pilot projects and choose the highest ranked pilot project.

  • Defining "right" measurable criteria for evaluating the pilot

  • Evaluating the pilot according to those predefined measurable criteria

  • Addressing real pain points which SOA is capable for addressing in relatively short time

  • Adequate organizational maturity level

Evaluate the organizational maturity level and if it is too low postpone the pilot and make

the necessary preparatory steps.

  • Metadata model

Things with higher tolerance level for wrong decisions in the beginning

  • Service functionality
  • Service Interface
  • Service Contract
  • Process steps
  • Service implementation
  • SOA initiative Organizational structure and roles assignments

Notice that higher tolerance is not a recommendation for unplanned or intentionally wrong architecture. It is a recommendation for balancing SOA planning efforts with expected future benefits and current limitations.


On one hand do not assume that you would be able to define a perfect, on the other hand a wrong SOA Pilot could be the end of the SOA initiative, because it could be the end of Business management sponsorship of SOA. Balancing is the key. You should allocate a reasonable amount of resources for good enough SOA Pilot. Distinguish between those elements which should be done correctly in the first time and those which could be corrected in the next iterations.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Web 2.0 fragility: Viacom vs YouTube

Viacom's lawsuit against YouTube is a demonstration of Web 2.0 issues described briefly in my Web 2.0 for Dummies posts.It also demonstrates Web 2.0 fragility.

The main issues behind the lawsuit are copyrights and trust.

According to Viacom, YouTube violated its copyrights by presenting videos including Viacom's copyrighted material. YouTube answer was that they do not present intentionally copyrighted videos or part of videos. The written guidelines in their Web site explain clearly that community members should not place copyrighted material in that Website. The company also provides a menu item (flag) for use by community members for alerting it about copyrights violations.

The lawsuit reminds me another copyrights lawsuit I was involved in as an expert witness. Two of the founders of an unsuccessful Israeli startup left the company and establishes another startup. The second startup's product was a real success story.

The other co-founders of the first startup company applied to court claiming that the new product is based on the first startup's copyrighted material.

When one of the founders of the second startup asked for my opinion as an expert, he sweared that there is no even the slightest correlation between the first startup's products and the new startup's product. According to him the lawsuit was a blackmail attempt based on the possible damage to the reputation and image of the new startup just because of a lawsuit. His former colleagues thought that he will be willing to pay for avoiding possible higher loses due to the lawsuit effects.

I talked to his lawyer and told him that I will get the data and analyze it to reach my conclusions, and I need his help only in one aspect: Whatever will my opinion be, I should use juridical terms and not IT terms to make sure that the judge will understand my opinion. (SOA concept is similar: build a Business Architecture based on Business terms and entities and use it for interactions with Business people instead of using technical IT terms).

I analyzed it using Top-Down methodology and juridical terms.

The top of the hierarchy could be illustrated as follows:

  • Was the source code of the new product copied entirely from source code of the first startup products? The answer was no. They used a different programming language.
  • Does the source code include significant parts reproduced from source code of the first startup products? The answer was no. They used a different programming language.
  • Is there similar functionality rewritten using another programming language? No
  • Are there any similar functional components or partial functionality? No
  • Is there any conceptual overlap between the products? No

The lawyer showed my expert opinion to the prosecutors' lawyer and the case was dismissed.

Why is the cited copyright lawsuit relevant to Viacom vs. YouTube?

In a way Viacom's attitude is similar to the founders of the first startup company: It is not really about copyrights: it is about riding on another company's success and getting business benefits.

Remember, Viacom is not the only media giant and it is the only one which applied to court. Google was ready to pay for unintentional copyrights violations by YouTube community members and agreement for payment was signed with other media giants.

Viacom's request to examine Google's Search code for proving that Google encourages copyright infringement is the best example.

Any one could easily conclude that it is impractical or almost impossible to augment a search engine so it will check copyrights violations in a large number of videos posted by community members.

I am quiet sure that even Viacom managers do not think that Google changed its search engine for supporting copyrights infringements.

If that request would have been sustained by the judge (fortunately it was dismissed), Google would prefer to shutdown YouTube instead of revealing its business patents and secrets. In that case, the gap which would have been formed by YouTube's shutdown would have been filled by new communities sharing and posting videos. Some of those companies would probably violate copyrights more than YouTube. Unfortunately, it will be more difficult or unrealistic to prosecute these companies (Think of a small company located in a developing country).

Web 2.0 in the light of Viacom vs. YouTube

  • Not all Web 2.0 Community participants could be trusted

Web 2.0 model is based on trust. While most of community members are trustworthy some are not.

This point was discussed in previous posts Vikipedia: The Good the Bad and the Ugly and Web 2.0 for Dummies – Part 4: What is Web 2.0?

  • It is impossible to avoid of copyrights infringement

A Web 2.0 community should supply reasonable means for minimizing copyrights infringement, mainly by community members' awareness and corrective actions. However, few untrusted community members will intentionally violate copyrights while other members will occasionally violate it unintentionally.

  • Web 2.0 projects are fragile

Viacom's claims that YouTube will turn over all removed videos and video related logging data were sustained. Execution of these actions could harm users Privacy (in particular by revealing the logging information) and requires a lot of work behalf of YouTube to produce those byproducts.

The glass is half empty and half full. The outcomes of future lawsuits against Web 2.0 vendors could be even worse than the verdict of Viacom vs. YouTube.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Vendors Survival: Will Sun Microsystems Survive until 2018?

I will start my post by quoting Garner Group's Magic Quadrant for Application Infrastructure for Back-End Application Integration Projects 2Q07 first Caution on Sun Microsystems:
"Sun's sales force was ill-prepared for the SeeBeyond acquisition, which significantly hurt SeeBeyond's momentum. The sales force has been trained,
but Sun must rebuild momentum in a market where growth is flattening".

In sumary, according to Gartner Group Sun sales force was not prepared for the SeeBeyond acquisition based on Seebeyond's SOA products. As a result SeeBeyond's momentum in that market disappeared and should be rebuilt (Sun lost momentum in the SOA market).

Why is this quote from the Research Note, which I read freely from BEA's Web Site, so important? It is important because it describes a Pattern.
Similar statements could be written about previous Sun initiatives and acquisitions:

1. Sun invented and built the Java programming language, but is lagging behind IBM and Borland in Java Language market share.

2. Sun built the Java Platforms (J2SE, J2EE and J2ME) but is lagging behind IBM, BEA, Oracle and even Open Source Jboss in J2EE Application Servers market.

3. Sun acquired FORTE in 1999 .In my opinion (and all leading Market Analyst firms shared this opinion) the best High-End Client/Server Application Development product. FORTE's momentum was never rebuilt again.

4. NetBeans Java Open Source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) supported by Sun is competing with another Open Source IDE Eclipse originated by IBM. Eclipse is more successful than NetBeans.

Eclipse members list includes leading vendors such as Adobe, Borland, CA, Fujitsu, Google, HP, Hitachi, Intel, Nokia, Novell, Oracle, SAP, SAS, Software AG, Tibco, Zend and even MySQL joined the Eclipse community.

NetBeans partners list is shorter and does not include many of the Java market leaders.
Amazon, eBay and Jboss are among NetBeans strategic partners. Capgemini, HP, Nokia and Wipro are NetBeans community partners.

The cited above pattern is not the only reason for predicting possible acquisition of Sun by a Mega Vendor (see also my post Vendor Survival Guide: Supermarket, Grovery and Kiosk) . Other reasons will be presented after presenting Sun's assets.
Notice, that ten years predictions could be very inaccurate, so my prediction could be wrong.
Sun's Assets
Sun his one of the three UNIX hardware leaders. The other two are IBM and HP. The UNIX servers include Operating System and other infrastructure products. Solaris Sun's UNIX is recently distributed as an Open Source product. Sun is also distributing Solaris on other platforms e.g. IBM Mainframe.

In the last years in addition to selling servers based on its SPARC processors, Sun builds and sells servers based on other vendors processors, mainly AMD's processors but also Intel's processors.
  • Storage hardware
Sun manufactures Storage hardware such as Disks and Tapes systems. On
2005 Sun acquired StorageTek a leading tape systems manufacture.
  • Other hardware
The company produces other hardware devices such as workstations.
  • Java software
The company portfolio includes Application Server (IPlanet), participation in Open Source Application Server project (GlassFish), Enterprise solutions (JES) and Desktop solution (JDS). Because of its history as the creator of Java, Sun is leading the Community Process of the Java platform evolution.
  • SOA and Integration
Sun's solutions are mainly SeeBeyond's solutions. SeeBeyond an EAI and a SOA integration market leader, was acquired by Sun.
  • Database Management
Recently (February, 2008), the company acquired the Open Source DBMS market leader MySQL.
Sun's IDM product is a technically solid solution and a market leader. The IDM is part of the JES.
  • Office applications
The company develops and sells Office applications originated from Staroffice acquisition. A limited version was released as an Open Source project named OpenOffice.
Sun main competitors in all markets are larger vendors. The company changed its strategy few times in the last years. Too frequent strategy changes reflect business dilemma (DEC's last years prior to being acquired by Compaq were characterized by frequent strategy changes).
The departure of Sun's Chairman and co-founder Scott McNealy is another sign showing difficulties
The server processors market is consolidated. Sun will not be able to compete for Long Term with Intel, AMD and IBM using its own SPARC processors .
Sun is building new server lines based on AMD and Intel processors supports my claim.
UNIX market is shrinking gradually and Linux share is growing.
It is reasonable to predict that for the Long Term most users will tend to install Linux (RedHat, SUSE and Oracle) and not OpenSolaris UNIX.
Storage and other Hardware
Sun is a player but not a leader in this growing market.
Java Software
Despite its technically solid and innovative products and its special position as the creator and partially owner of the platform, Sun's market share is not high.

SOA and Integration
Sun is competing with Mega Vendors like: Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle and with large vendors like Tibco and Software AG/ Web Methods. Seebeyond's CAPS (formerly SeeBeyond's ICAN) includes unique capabilities for Java based SOA implementations.
Database Management
Will MySQL continue its momentum after being acquired by Sun? I do not know.
Anyway, the market leaders are Oracle, IBM and Microsoft
Office Systems
So far Microsoft is the undisputed leader in that market. IBM Lotus is another competitor. New Google Web based Office services are also emerging.

With a large installed base and loyal customers, Sun is an innovative company which has valuable assets and could be an acquisition target for one of the Mega Vendors.

For which companies SUN is a reasonable acquisition target?
Sun could be an acquisition target for vendors that are large enough to buy it and have Business affinity with it, i.e. buying it has a value proposition for them.
In my opinion there are three vendors that are fitting to these criteria.
Possible Sun acquisition could be valuable for IBM in the following aspects:
  • Leading Java community processes and enhancing its Java market share. IBM could strengthen its position as the Java market leader.
  • Hardware market share: Servers and Storage
  • UNIX market share. By acquiring Sun IBM will become the undisputed UNIX market leader
  • Database market share. MySQL in addition to its flagship DB2, Informix and other databases
  • SOA and integration
IBM integration products line includes many products added by acquisition, some times with overlapping functionality. CAPS with its unique features could be added to this collection.
IBM is experienced in acquisitions of large companies such as FileNet and PWC.
Possible Sun acquisition could be valuable for HP in the following aspects:
  • Hardware market share: Servers and Storage
  • UNIX market share. By acquiring Sun, HP will become the undisputed UNIX market leader
  • Sun's IDM may augment HP's Management product line
Extending acquired EDS outsourcing business based on Sun's platforms and products (see my post Will HP survives till 2018? – HP's EDS acquisition First Take).

HP experience in similar acquisition of Compaq (including proprietary Alpha servers and processors and proprietary Tandem servers) and operating multiple overlapping hardware products lines as well as its Intel alliance could help HP in the merging process.

HP challenges could be entering to new markets such as databases (competing with its partner Oracle?) and Java development and Runtime products (HP unsuccessful acquisition of a Java Application Server many years ago).
At first glance it seems that EMC is not a company that would acquire Sun, However EMC acquired Data General many years ago. Data General main business lines were servers (including Operating System and Infrastructure software products) and storage. The storage line was the reason for acquiring Data General.
Possible Sun acquisition could be valuable for EMC in the following aspects:
  • Storage market share and products
The Storage Tek Cartridges systems lines could complement EMC's storage solutions.
  • IDM as a Security product extending acquired RSA Security products line
  • Expanding its software portfolio (e.g. Documentum) with new software products lines.

In case of acquiring Sun, some of EMC's challenges will be as follows:
  • Should it enter into the Servers and Operating Systems market with Sun Servers and Solaris?
  • Type and level of participation in Open Source software initiatives
  • Should it develop and market a DBMS system competing with its partners Oracle and Microsoft?

EMC strategy is to expand its business beyond its traditional storage solutions.Few years I read an interview with EMC's CEO John Tucci . He talked about EMC as a potential infrastructure vendor. In case of strategy of that kind and acquisition of Sun EMC may decide to be a player in the Servers
For which companies SUN is not a reasonable acquisition target?
I will be surprised if Microsoft or Oracle will acquire Sun. Both companies are software companies and I do not think that they would expand their business to include significant hardware business.

I will be more than surprised if Google will acquire it. Google has no experience and tradition in acquisitions of that kind and its core business is not Enterprise Infrastructure solutions.
My prediction is that there is relatively high probability that Sun will be acquired by another company in the following 10 years.

This prediction should not influence current decisions about buying and implementing Sun's solutions.
I see no other candidates except: IBM, HP and EMC for acquiring it.

It is also possible that some of Sun's assets will be bought by other companies prior to such acquisition (DEC sold business lines to Intel CA and Cabletron before being acquired by Compaq).

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