Sunday, July 27, 2008

Generational Platforms

Programming COBOL on the mainframe was the preferred platform of the generation before me. Don't get me wrong, I did my fair share. I did it, but I remember thinking that it was "my fathers platform".

I was a PC guy. When it was time to develop some new piece of software, the PC and personal OS was my starting point. I programmed in 14 different languages mostly client/server or monolithic clients running on Unix, Windows, OS/2, etc. It was obvious for me to see the benefits of this platform yet it surprised me that the last-gen often didn't get it.

In the late 1990's, I began working with people who were slightly younger than I. These people assumed that any new software built would be browser based. The Web was their platform. I remember thinking that the big thing was really Java, virtual machines, distributed computing, security sand-boxes, etc. The Web was limited in capability. Initially, I fought it - but then I got it. I laughed a bit about how I was getting old.

I'm now seeing a new paradigm emerge, once again, initiated by a younger generation. This group believes that software starts with social networks like Facebook and MySpace. It's less about the function of the software and more about the communities, relations and communications that they enable. Again, the last gen is challenged to understand the importance of this jump and many old-timers will not make the transition.

Evidence is also appearing to suggest that a second shift is occurring in parallel. That is, pervasive computing seems to have finally crossed the chasm. The iPhone has blazed a trail for a new generation applications available whenever and wherever you happen to be located. GPS enabled features brings a whole new dimension to the platform enabling scores of location based offerings.

This blog is about SOA - more specifically it is about services that enable productivity. It's often easy to get stuck in the old traps of debating stuff that doesn't really matter (REST vs. SOAP, do ESB's suck?, etc.) The exciting stuff that is going on in computing is related to the next generation platforms. The new generation doesn't care about the SOA debates - their debate is on geo-location services, cross-SaaS provisioning, etc. In essence, it isn't about SOA - it's about the next generation of services that enable pervasive computing on a social network. All of this other chatter is just last generation fools talking about stuff that only obsolete people care about.

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