Friday, August 29, 2008

Is it reasonable to use Obsolete Platforms as part of SOA?

One of SOA's Value Propositions is platform independence. Some people's view is that SOA is a collection of Lego like services connected together as Black Boxes so it does not matter, which platforms and technologies are used for service implementations. Although the Lego analogy could be useful, it is sometimes too simplistic.Usgae of Obsolete Platforms as part of your SOA can demonstrate the limitations of platform independence in SOA implementation.

Obsolete Platforms are platforms near the end of their Life Cycle. They are characterized by lack of new installations, gradual migration to other platforms and slower development and updating of the platform's software.
In previous post titled Mainframe and the Dinosaurous Myth, I discussed Mainframes as a full participant in the SOA implementation. Make no mistakes, Obsolete Platforms are not z/OS, CICS or DB2 and therefore probably will be at best partial participants.

Technical Considerations
The main technological considerations are:
  • The applications are Monolithic Legacy applications.Identifying services within these large monolithic entities is a very difficult task. Extracting services is usually even more difficult, requiring complex reengineering or wrapping entities. The wrapped entities may be too large including more than one service.
  • The architecture is Tightly Coupled so implementation of Loose Coupled SOA is costly and difficult. Loose Coupling is not a must, however the majority of modern SOA implementations (especially Web Services Framework SOA implementations) are Loosely Coupled.
  • Lack of SOA products and tools
Most vendors' products support only frequently used platforms. Supporting Obsolete platforms
requires technical efforts and building marketing and sales channels. Potential revenues may be too small
for justify these extra expanses.
  • Limited support of Web Services
There are three elements of "Limited support" in this context:
1. Fewer Web Services standards are supported
2. Current Web Services standards version may not be available
3. Implementation is not based on code generation and may require complex and potentially error prone
coding by infrastructure programmers or application programmers.
Key Considerations
These considerations are usually more important than the technical considerations.I will demonstrate it by example.
Many years ago my responsibilities included Capacity Planning and Hardware upgrades decision of an MVS (the origin of z/OS operating system in the eightieth and ninetieth of the previous century) Mainframe installation servicing more than 3,000 users, therefore I knew quiet well Mainframe computers capabilities and prices.

As a consultant to a Data General (DG) installation using its proprietary operating system, I was surprised that the price of a new computer was a lot higher than the price my installation paid for IBM Mainframe. The number of users in the Data General installation was a lot smaller than the number in the MVS installation same as the number of online transactions so the required computing power (Processor, IO, and Memory) in the Data general installation was a lot less than the power required in the MVS installation.

Why was the DG computer so expensive? It was an Obsolete Technology.
The price tag was based on two factors: It was a n Obsolete technology so the company did not plan to sale other computers in two or three years after that deal and the customer was locked in, so he has no other choice.
Unsurprisingly, the price of more powerful DG UNIX server was about 20% of the price of the proprietary DG server. The customer had a choice (IBM, HP, Sun etc.) and the vendor expected to sell additional computers.

As illustrated above, the first consideration is high Software and Hardware costs. The second is high maintenance costs (including maintenance fees and electricity). You also should expect monotonic growth of maintenance fees.
The third consideration is diminished skills.
The bottom line is that a SOA implementation based on Obsolete Tchnology will be a costly and a slagish implementation
What is the real Value Proposition, if any?
The real issue of Obsolete Technology based systems is a choice between bad and worse alternatives. You should choose the least harmful alternative.
In some cases in spite of the cited above technical limitations, it could be SOA implementation based partially on Obsolete Technologies.

The advantage of it in comparison to Big Bang migrations or continuous deployment of Monolithic Obsolete systems is the ability to migrate gradually and smoothly by taking advantage of the relatively independence on platforms and Service and Consumer loose coupling.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Web 2.0 usage by commercial companies

In my Web 2.o for Dummies posts I discussed Web 2.0 usage by commercial companies. The companies use Blogs, Virtual Worlds, and Wikies.
They use YouTube videos as well.
An interesting idea of a mobile device application adding human memory in remembering
-->people is presented by a YouTube video made by IBM. It is also a good example of Web 2.0 usage by -->
example of Web 2.0 usage by companies.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Web 2.0 for Dummies – Part 8: Social and Professional Networks

This post is the 8th post in the "Web 2.0 for dummies" posts, based on my Web 2.0 presentation in a conference. After tasting Web 2.0 (part 2) understanding what it is (part 4) and understanding Mashups, Virtual Realities, Wikipedia we will look at the world of Social Networks.
Networks enable people to connect to other people with similar interests or history.
People gradually build their networks by connecting to other people or connecting to network content.
Networks like Linkedin or Plaxo are more professional than social. Facebook and Myspace are examples of Social networks. However, Professional networks are also used for Social purposes and Social Networks are also used for business interactions.

Networks Models
First generation: Connecting People
Linkedin is a good example of Professional Network of that type. A member may request to connect to another member. The other member may accept the invitation or reject it.
Every member builds his network gradually. He is able to view information related to his network members (e.g. their connections) and is able to connect directly with them and indirectly with other Linked in members using his network members as an intermediate. People connect to people they know or to potential business partners.
Other examples of first generation networks: Facebook, Myspace, Plaxo, Spock..
Second Generation: Content Centered
The connection is based on content and not on personal connections.
There are different submodels based on different approaches to content.
1. Connecting by content
Flicker is an example of this model.
2. Viral model
In this model content is transmitted via e-mail.
YouTube is an example of this model.
3. Social news model
Content is ranked by people. In a way each community member has a limited role of an editor. Content is ranked as a sum of individual ranks. Digg is an example of this model.

Current trends favor Content centered models. First generation networks are extending their model with content based elements e.g. Linkedin groups which may share content between interest group members. The content may include Wikies and Blogs.
Common Network attributes
  • No membership fees
  • Advertisement
  • Members Participation and Sharing
  • Content sharing
Value Proposition
Web2.0 based networks expand the capabilities beyond the capabilities of non-Web networks due to easy access and rapid information updates.
As a member in some networks, I found the following value propositions:
  • Building Business relations with other network members. The Web extends the network beyond physical boundaries.
  • An easy way to transfer relevant information to a large mailing list without sending e-mails.
For example Plaxo send a weekly update to every network member. Plaxo uses RSS for tracking
new Blog Posts, so the weekly update includes a notice about new posts in my blog.
The first page after logging in to networks contains updates list
  • Notification of status changes of all people included in my network
In a relatively short time I am notified on job change, address change, phone number change, e-mail
address change or birthday date of any people included in the network I built.
  • Rediscovering old friends, classmates and business partners.

Other possible benefits:
  • Availability of valuable content
  • Contact Lists for distributing information
  • A new Distribution Channel for marketing products and services
  • A tool for transforming information to employees
  • Some community members will identify themselves as other people or supply faked information describing themselves (Social networks are based on a Trust Model same as other Web 2.0 communities).
  • Misuse of the network for Phishing, deception and fraud.
  • Popular content is not necessarily high quality content. Many Content centered networks data patterns are based on voting i.e. popularity.

  • Communities' members face the challenge controlling their personal networks by rejecting connect requests by irrelevant or unknown members (As far as unknown members are concerned there are exceptions: those members that supply sound explanation for connecting to you).

My Take
  • There are too many Social and Professional Networks. The result is ineffective networks, because some people will participate in one network while other people will participate in other competing network.
  • The other alternative of participation in many networks is ineffective as well and time consuming
  • Some networks will not expand and could disappear. Others should find unique features which could attract people.
  • I frequently receive invitations to join new networks. I assume that I am not the only one. I rarely find new approaches, patterns or value in these new networks.
  • Probably Networks merges or coupling will take place in the future.
Standardization will enable usage of the same identity and profile beyond networks similar
to future usage of the same Avatar in multiple Virtual Worlds (for more details see my
comments on Virtual Grid in my previous post on Virtual Worlds).
  • Do not actively participate in too many Social networks. I found that the relevant communities for me are: Linkedin, Plaxo and Facebook and probably ITtoolbox.

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