Service Oriented Enterprise

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Death of Software?  

Paul Brown had commented on a note from Eric Newcomer on the "death of software":

"The most significant inventions are over. Some would call this the "death of software." But only as we know it. Software will continue. But we are not likely to have any new languages, or see any significant new inventions. Twenty years ago no one knew what a database was, or middleware, or Java. But now I think innovation like that has stopped because IT doesn't need it any more."

Oh me, oh my. I've been there before - when you just run out of steam and everything looks grey; progress halts and the future dims. The good news is that history tells us that this is dead wrong.

Where to begin? Software remains in a pre-natal stage (not even infancy). I still think is hysterical that I type on a keyboard, look at a fixed monitor, and have to tell the computer what I want it to do. I'm amazed that I am so much smarter than my computer - this is just silly. I hate the fact that the state of artificial imagination is at ground zero, that we don't have digital metaphors and that a computer can't reverse engineer strategy. I think it is funny that we continue to use silicon at the computing substrate, that our programs are explicitly programmed and that they are not self-improving.

Maybe I'm just a kid at heart. Maybe I'm too stupid to know the obstacles. Either way, I am thankful. May I continue to be cursed with creationary optimism.

And may I offer an ounce of optimism to those of you who wore black pants and white shirts today. When your desk is scattered with employee status reports, when your walls speak of posters of UML and Java libraries from 5 years ago, it is time for a change. Not a little change, but a big change. Web services, orchestration, intermediaries, blah, blah, blah - these are the incremental improvements decades in the work. Refill your mind with childlike optimism. Imagine. Invent. Destroy. Laugh. Repeat.

posted by jeff | 6:11 AM

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Stuck in the Middle  

This is from a slide deck that was put together in 1997:
The [I] box stands for 'intermediary'.


Intermediary-based programming is still an art. Everyone wants to talk about services... service oriented this, service oriented that... but no one want to talk about "intermediary oriented". I guess it isn't very sexy. I've challenged the SO group to discuss the NFR's of an intermediary; should be interesting. I've also had some interesting discussions on the categories of intermediaries, including stateless, stateful, 'context oriented', header-only processing, payload processing and more.

I have a feeling that a significant focus of 2005 will be on the intermediary programming model. We'll see great discussions on IOD (design) and IOA (architecture) and refactoring portions of fat services into bumps on the network.

posted by jeff | 6:22 PM

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Charcoal Services  

If a black boxed service sits in a grey container, what is it?

posted by jeff | 1:54 PM

The Financial CIO  

A great quote from a recent Sterling-Hoffman newsletter:

Angel Mehta: Why do you think the climate is so difficult for enterprise software companies, even with the economy having recovered?

Stu Schuster: For as long as I can remember, the process of growing a company has been the Geoffrey Moore, ‘Crossing the Chasm’ approach. When taking technology to market, find the innovators first who buy the technology, and then you go through the early adopters and late adopters, etc. This process, I think, all good high-tech marketers understood.

Throughout my entire career, there were always people who wanted to do something for their organizations that they believed would be a leap forward and would make a name for themselves. Call these the entrepreneurial Chief Information Officer… they were at companies like FedEx or Wal-Mart. They would try to do something with technology that would give the entire company a competitive edge.

After the technology crash, the focus became so oriented around cost-cutting that the entrepreneurial CIO was replaced with a financial CIO. There are so few entrepreneurial CIO’s out there that today everything has to be easy to implement, available by the drink, with very short time to ROI. The innovative buyer, the entrepreneurial CIO has been terminated out of the industry.

Eventually, it’ll cycle again because people will eventually feel that they’ll need a competitive advantage and will look to technology to do that. But today, it’s brutal. It’s amazing how hard it is to find people who are willing to take a chance on a new company or new technology. Fear dominates every IT department. As a result, growing an early stage software company is just harder than ever.

That’s why I place so much more emphasis on the people-side of the equation these days. It doesn’t matter how great the technology is – if the right people aren’t in place, you’ll never convince customers to take a chance.

posted by jeff | 1:15 PM