Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Plugging Leaky Business Cases

Jack Keen has written an article at CIO Magazine on validating business cases. He introduces a couple bullet items which are fairly basic. The reason I mention it is that I am a fan of Business and I.T. Alignment. At Momentum, I preach to the consultants about tying business cases and use-cases together. Many software people tend to believe that the use-case IS the business case. This just isn't the case... the use-case brings the business case to fruition. I reccomend prioritizing the business cases, then identifying the use-cases for each business case, then prioritize the use-cases within the high priority business cases. Also, I recommend documenting the association of a business case to a use case. For example,

Business Case #32:
Theme: Increase Customer Satisfaction
Objective: Resolve Technical Support Questions Quickly
Measurement: 80% resolved on first call

Business Case #42
Theme: Remain Fully Compliant with Government Regulations
Objective: Answer questions around hazardous material
Measuerement: Have access to all MSDS information / per product

// More business cases go here....

and then later....

Use Case: Display Material Safety Data Sheet
Business Case : #34
Overview: blah blah blah
Pre-conditions: blah blah blah
Post-conditions: blah blah blah
// rest of use case...

// More Use case goes here

I find that too often software developers are building new components or fixing old ones - yet they have no indication on why they are doing it. Relating the use-case back to the business case gives the engineer the knowledge to better understand and/or challenge the users about the work effort.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Memory Lane

Just took a jog down memory lane, see:
The issue was that you shouldn't try to get an opensource community to rally around a crappy specification - just doesn't work.

SOE and Corporate Strategy

The guys over that the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative produced a way to link the Service Oriented Enterprise back to the Key Performance Indicators of a corporation. They have created an XML Schema for structuring the reporting of on various metrics. This effort is called the, "Balanced Scorecard XML Standard". Although I'm not sure about the longevity of this particular standard, it does represent the thinking that a service network will be able to monitor active processes inside a corporation and send off alterts to a real-time business intelligence (or as I prefer, Process Intelligence) monitoring station.

One can anticipate that the XML Schema will eventually be complemented by some WSDL and may be aligned with pre-canned BPEL abstract processes. The era of strategy focused, process driven, service oriented, platform ready computing is coming. It is great to see the guys at BSCOL working on this problem from the top down...

Gartner Matrix on Business Rules Engines

Gartner released their matrix for Business Rules Engines for April of 2003:

The full report is here.

The report comments, "There is an emerging concept that service-oriented architecture (SOA) and its associated Web services also should include rules sensitivity. This may occur through 2004; the momentum has yet to be determined."

Although Gartner loves the, "Software as Service" story, they don't seem to be as bullish as one might expect on the exposure of business rules as services. The report does not mention the syndication of business rules for highly regulated industries (HIPAA, Patriot Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.). However it does mention that one must consider the SOA:

"We believe that new agile applications will be composed of flow rules and services that leverage SOAs. Therefore, large vendors such as IBM and Microsoft must buy, build or integrate rule engines. We expect it will take 18 months or more for IBM and Microsoft to deliver the kind of functionality that can compete effectively in this market. Ultimately, there may be too few stand-alone rule vendors to justify a separate market. "

What happened to the DragonFly project from Microsoft???

Web Services Exercise #1

The marketing department at a Fortune 500 company has realized that 10% of their revenue is being generated from their online Internet presence. The Web group has also determined that almost 50% of all of their traffic is being directed to them by the Google search engine. In an effort to increase web traffic the company has decided to create software to monitor and report their “ranking” on Google. The software has the following requirements:

1. Every Monday at 4AM, a snapshot of the Google rankings should run.
2. The software should read from a set of stored keywords (supplied in advance) that the user would like to query Google.
3. The software should loop through the keywords, send the query to Google and retrieve the results.
4. The results should be turned into an HTML page that can be saved to a web server and rendered later.
5. Every Monday at 9AM, an email should be sent to a distribution list (supplied in advance) notifying them that the report has run. The email should also contain a link to the report.

Design this system using a service oriented approach. Leverage web service interfaces to the SMTP, the job scheduler, the HTML report writer, file persistence, FTP and the search engine. Leverage BPEL to tie it all together.

To do:
1. Create service interfaces, including WSDL & XML Schemas
2. Create any BPEL documents (if needed)

What is wrong with last-gen EAI?

Customers are tired of having proprietary EAI solutions and want to standardize on the integration mechanism.

The old EAI platforms didn’t do a good job of communicating between each other (Tibco to MQ Series, etc.). Since different businesses picked different vendors, it made it difficult to use these systems to connect independent businesses (or often different business units).

The old EAI platforms were not tuned for ‘long running transactions’

The old EAI platforms didn’t provide ‘compensating transactions’

The old EAI platforms didn’t recognize Web Services / SOAP as a ubiquitous communication device.

The old EAI platforms had proprietary solutions to transformations rather than moving to standards like XSLT.

The old EAI platforms had proprietary solutions for security – they didn’t employ standards like WS-Security for universal security needs.

The old EAI platform all had proprietary solutions for reliability – they didn’t standardize the ‘at-least once, at-most once, in-order, on-time’ delivery functions like is employed in WS-Reliability.

The old EAI platforms had proprietary solutions for node-to-node routing. Thus passing payloads with an itinerary required the vendor solution at each node. Today this may be accomplished by having components that support WS-Routing.

The old EAI platforms focused more on integrating legacy systems than on creating integrated business processes.

The old EAI platforms didn’t have the ability to create abstract versions of a process. Thus the ability to create standardized processes between businesses was nearly impossible. This has been advanced with the BPEL abstract process capabilities.

Customers think that the old EAI price tags are just too expensive.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

BPEL4WS moves to OASIS!!!

Infoworld has reported that the control of the BPEL4WS web service orchestration specification has moved control to the OASIS standards body.

"The Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS) specification is expected to be submitted to Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), Carol Geyer, spokeswoman for OASIS, confirmed.

"We anticipate it will probably be tomorrow and a charter will be submitted tomorrow or maybe Thursday," Geyer said. The proposing companies still are making modifications to the charter for BPEL4WS that they submit to OASIS, she said. "

Perhaps some of the critics claiming too much confusion in the orchestration space will now come around.

Also, I was glad to see OpenStorm mentioned!!

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Bob Sutor on Web Service Standards

Taken from,

But is there any one hot-button issue that people can't agree on?The one spot where people are still facing off is on choreography and that really goes to the politics of the standards organizations themselves. But the momentum for standards for Web services has clearly shifted to OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). The W3C has decided that it wants to start a group around Web services choreography; IBM doesn't necessarily think that's the right choice or right venue, but we'll see how it works out.

Will IBM abide by the decision?
In what sense?

If they decide on something that's not to IBM's liking, will you be good soldiers and abide by the decision of the group?
Who's the group though? The W3C staff or the 500 member companies? That's where it gets little difficult because if you look at the models of the W3C and OASIS, they are very different. The W3C has a very strong centralized model of control; OASIS is far more decentralized so it doesn't necessarily make any difference what the OASIS staff feels about standards. They are more focused on providing the environment for people to get together. So you have this tension between them.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Process Driven Organization

I'm proud to announce that we are launching a new educational site called the "Process Driven Organization". This site is part of a series of sites Momentum Software is launching to paint a vision for the future of enterprise computing.

A Process Driven Organization treats its business processes as a portfolio of valuable corporate assets. Business Process Management techniques are used to explicitly define and execute processes in a manner that creates significant benefits.

The fundamental shift made by a Process Driven Organization is that business processes are built for agility and they are liberated from the IT applications that support them.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

HP & Web Services

"Hewlett-Packard (HP) plans aggressive investments to position itself as the dominant vendor in Web services management. To succeed, HP must execute better than it has done on other software initiatives."


Sun News Letter - Web Services Expo

Taken from, System News for Sun Users, Vol 62 Issue 1

9437: Vaughn Spurlin Reports on the Second Annual Web Services Expo
Event Focuses on Currently Operational Web Services Projects

"In his account of the Second Annual Web Services Expo,sponsored by the Software Development Forum, Vaughn Spurlin reports that the focus was on currently up-and-running Web Services; the huge ROI that well-placed Web Services projects can deliver; the need for a detailed, convincing business plan if obtaining funding is the object; the pall on buying technology simply because it is new and different; and the emergence of SOAP as a four-letter word not to be used in polite company. Spurlin also includes summaries of each of the 14 presentations, among which were:
Intel Chief Strategist, Chris Thomas, stressed the need for "occasionally connected computing" (OCC), which would enable work to continue when no net connection was available. Web-based ordering should download data by subscription, he said, eliminate server lag and use drag and drop to enable completion of forms offline. Reggie Hutcherson, manager of the Technology Evangelism team in the Technology Outreach Group at Sun Microsystems, outlined the phases of Web Services adoption: Web Services over HTTPS (happening now), Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) Web Services (beginning), and business Web Services --including UBL and ebXML (2004 plus). He said more work is needed in Quality of Service, security and Identity Management and stressed Sun's focus on Java TM 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE TM ), ebXML and UBL, and the Liberty Project. The Sun TM Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) provides a deployment mechanism for Web Services, he said.

Finally, Christine Clevenger, SAP VP for Industry Business Unit High Tech, explained her company's new solution, NetWeaver, which she said customers will use to integrate existing multiple SAP installations within their enterprise. Synchronizing master data is the key to interoperability.

P2P & Web Services - - Was I wrong?

Some time back, I wrote an article on, "The Convergence of Peer and Web Services". At the time I was trying to build some software on top of JXTA and realized that what it really needed was web service interfaces. The JXTA team (Sun) was willing to have web service capabilities as add-on's but refused to have it in the core. It was clear to me that this was a failing proposition - my team attempted some things like creating a bridging framework (see Jockey). Jockey was a hack - don't get me wrong - considering the fact that the web service designers were thinking "centrally distributed" (UDDI) while the P2P guys were thinking "resiliency first" it was a happy medium.

I recently had to write some code to parse up WS-Inspection documents and it hit me that WS-Inspection was a first step towards P2P based web services. I was happy that the location of the inspection document was easy to find, easy to parse and physically close to the service it described. Ultimately I think that WS-Inspection was designed correctly - however, it needs complementary specifications to address some additional aspects - like:
- Show me the services that have consumed me lately (a most recently used-by list)
- Show me other endpoints that agree to this contract (a list of same service, but other providers)

Now, some of this is covered in UDDI - and perhaps that is where this stuff will land. However, the UDDI spec seems to be growing and growing and growing. It's growth seems to be more around how to make one big ass, formal UBR. This is good and bad - the requirements for a golden repository with slaves are similar to a peer-to-peer contract repository. Thus, UDDI (although overkill) might just do it.

One of the things that the P2P guys got right (IMHO) is that they realized that finding services (peer or web) isn't always a formal process. In a P2P world, as you bump into servers, you are informed of additional services. In essence, each peer brags about the services it knows about. In the Web Services world this doesn't happen - the only way find a service is by intentionally hitting a UDDI, WS-Inspection or knowing a URL. This sucks. Perhaps it is time to formalize, "My Favorite Web Services".

All in all, I don't think I was wrong - perhaps early. One thing that is clear to me is that it will be web services in the forefront and p2p used as an add-on (e.g., SOAP binding for JXTA, SOAP binding for Jabber, etc.) Then, each of these transport providers will have to provide translation services (translate idl contracts, translate transaction contracts, etc.)

Eventually the concepts between these domains will merge. Now the question is, will it be Graham Glass setting the standard or Microsoft?

Saturday, April 05, 2003

E-Week Editorial

I just read the latest e-week editorial:,3959,985606,00.asp
They comment that SOAP will be challenged because security wasn't built into the 1.2 specification. I'm getting the feeling that the E-Week editorial board isn't familiar with the WS-I security profile work. I also get the feeling that they are still in 1990 land and want a BIG-ASS spec that ties all of this stuff together in a single spec rather than having a building block structure to specifications.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Let's Dump BPEL and use JavaScript!!!!

HOLY SHIT! O'Toole at Cape Clear thinks we should dump BPEL4WS and use JavaScript instead:

"I asked O'Toole if he expected Cape Clear's customers to proceed blindly with developing Web services that are devoid of any notion of orchestration or transactional state. O'Toole claimed that complicated protocols like the Business Process Execution Language for Web services (BPEL4WS) or the Web services Choreography Interface (WSCI) are extra baggage and that any functionality that those specifications are designed to handle is easily covered by something found in virtually every system: JavaScript (also known as ECMAScript). "


He goes on to say that application servers can go as well. I get the feeling that anything that isn't in his companies product portfolio (yet) isn't worth the while.... very sad.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Not Loosely Coupled

David Chappell makes some sound comments on the fact that loose coupling is poorly defined and that usually it is a bunch of crap:

I think the point that David is trying to make is that we need agility with out fragility. That is the essence of loose coupling.

BPEL White Paper

The guys over at Collaxa ran this nice white paper down:

Hermes Message Hanlder

I just ran across this free implementation of the ebMS specification:

I have no idea how well it works...