Monday, June 17, 2013

Cloud Works Best when SOA is Involved

Leveraging the cloud means thinking beyond standard models, business processes and technology. The cloud is inherently service-oriented as its users are reaching out to consume and expose web services. Being able to link together services sounds much like service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Think of the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) you've deployed at AWS as an Application Programming Interface (API) conduit, a control point to provide the flexibility to allow business units or teams build composite services. This matches up to a large extent with my working definition of SOA: loosely-coupled services with well-defined interfaces that provide functionality and can be shared or reused across and outside the organization. These services can be discovered through a registry/repository or other directory, and can be assembled and dis-assembled to meet current business process demands.

Over at InfoWorld, the author notes that the architecture of's PaaS (platform as a service) embeds a lot of SOA approaches. For PaaS platforms to be useful, they must be service oriented to some degree.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Steve Jobs' Thoughts on the Impermanence of All Things

From the CNN site: This article is the second of a three-part series adapted from the new e-book "Letters to Steve: Inside the E-mail Inbox of Apple's Steve Jobs," written by CNN tech writer Mark Milian.

Steve Jobs wasn't eager to disclose details of his health issues over the years.
That the Apple co-founder contracted a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003 wasn't disclosed until after his return from surgery more than nine months later. Another health problem, which was innocuously described at first as a "hormone imbalance," turned into a six-month leave during which Jobs underwent a liver transplant.
Yet Jobs' views on existence, as he increasingly faced his own mortality, became ever more poetic and less concealed toward the end. These could be seen in the rare interviews he'd grant but also in e-mail correspondences with acquaintances and strangers, which he often took the time to partake in.
"I don't think of my life as a career," he told Time in 2010. "I do stuff. I respond to stuff. That's not a career -- it's a life!"
Jobs also shared his condolences and personal revelations with others facing similar pressures. A man named James told the news site Business Insider that he e-mailed Jobs on April 20, 2010, to thank him for supporting an organ donor program. James mentioned that his girlfriend had died of melanoma two years before.

Jobs replied: "Your [sic] most welcome, James. I'm sorry about your girlfriend. Life is fragile."

"Letters to Steve: Inside the E-mail Inbox of Apple's Steve Jobs," by Mark Milian is available for download on Amazon.

The rare moments when Jobs publicly waxed philosophical were among his most memorable. Perhaps the most widely quoted is his 2005 commencement address to Stanford University's graduating class: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important," he said.

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
He continued: "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent."
People often looked to Jobs for advice on dealing with the inevitable, and he seemed eager to offer his guidance.

One of the first calls Bob Longo, a former sales chief for the failed computer company Jobs founded called NeXT Computer, made after getting diagnosed with cancer was to Jobs. (They shared the same oncologist and radiologist.) The pair kept in touch, Longo recalled to the Pittsburgh Business Times, and Longo received an exuberant e-mail from Jobs after telling him the news that Longo's surgery was successful.

Longo told the Business Times: "Messages from him were generally laconic. This one had 20 exclamation points. I have a cousin who's a pretty well regarded cancer research doctor and told him the doctor Steve referred me to; he said, 'Don't even ask for a second opinion. Start your treatment.'"
Even in 1995, Jobs seemed undeterred in the face of death. He said in an interview with the Computerworld Honors Program: "We're all going to be dead soon; that's my point of view. Somebody once told me, they said, 'Live each day as if it would be your last, and one day you'll certainly be right.' I do that. You never know when you're going to go, but you are going to go pretty soon. If you're going to leave anything behind, it's going to be your kids, a few friends and your work. So that's what I tend to worry about."

Jobs set out to "put a dent in the universe," as he would say, and many believe he did just that. He transformed industries, improved important tools and changed the daily lives for billions of people.
But as much as the world may have needed a visionary like Jobs, he apparently needed us, too.
"You know, there's nothing that makes my day more than getting an e-mail from some random person in the universe who just bought an iPad over in the U.K. and tells me the story about how it's the coolest product they've ever brought home, you know, in their lives," Jobs said at the All Things Digital conference in 2010.

"That's what keeps me going. And it's what kept me going five years ago. It's what kept me going 10 years ago, when the doors were almost closed. And it's what'll keep me going five years from now, whatever happens," he said. Jobs died 16 months later to a public outpouring of grief.

Steve Jobs was a Buddhist and thinker beyond just technology, design and human capital management. In The Zen of Steve Jobs
">], we learn the story of Jobs' relationship withKobun Chino Otogawa, a person of great import to Steve. The story moves back and forward in time, from the 1970s to 2011, but centers on the period after Jobs' exile from Apple in 1985 when he took up intensive study with Kobun. Their time together was integral to the big leaps that Apple took later on with its product design and business strategy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mobility Shines On, with WWDC and More News

Every day we see more mobility -- and everyone's reliance on mobile phones means mobile apps are clearly a cornerstone of this. We see the mobile app as entertainment, as tool, as necessity. I've been witness to how using the web as a platform for application and business process development has increased the value to enterprises -- and to individuals. Consumer uptake drives the enterprise these days. Think of BYOD, bring your own device. The future of computing at work is based on staff buying and maintaining their own (multipurpose) devices.

Mobile technology means more open access to business applications for employees and partners. SOA, as many readers should know by now, opens the door to the API level of business application access. But consumer apps are following that trend. Recently, a note taking app I like released its own API, so anyone could utilize the service layer it provides.

Corporate intranets are being architected in DMZs allowing for mobile browser access -- again, supporting the BYOD model. This type of open access will only accelerate.

One metric drives much of this -- there's a huge increase in mobile web browsing.

At WWDC, we see many new advances in iOS and other Apple technologies. But it's still "Apple vs everyone", as even snarky anti-Google comments highlight. Just yesterday Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced iOS 7, Apple's newest mobile operating system, calling it "the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone." In a video showing off the redesigned system, design guru Jonny Ive revealed it will have a quick settings area, new swipe-to-unlock screen and flatter icons in an interface envisioned differently from the recent past. Change is inevitable in the mobile world, and Apple seems to be leading the way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

SOA Maturity is Good for Cloud Computing

In a new research note, Ovum’s Saurabh Sharma makes the case for making sure there is service orientation behind the cloud.

As he explains it: “It is true that cloud computing can be pursued without SOA, but it is also true that these attempts often fail to deliver the real business value of cloud computing.” Service oriented architecture is a way of designing, sharable technology-based services, regardless of language, platform or underlying hardware, in a well-governed, orchestrated manner that is meaningful to the business.

Sharma spells out two good reasons for laying an SOA foundation underneath cloud services:

SOA addresses complex integration issues created by cloud computing: Let’s face it, right now, cloud is only creating more information and application silos, not less. SOA, on the other hand, is intended to reduce or better integrate silos, and is sorely needed “meet complex integration requirements, including on-premise-to-cloud integrations and B2B integrations that involve multi-enterprise process automations,” says Sharma. “SOA helps in integration of disparate applications and services, and provides the necessary security and governance paradigm for the efficient, repeatable, and secure usage of cloud services.”

SOA governance provides the foundation for cloud governance: Governance is the only way to ensure the business gets what it needs from IT. With so many people in the business signing on to their own cloud services, things are getting duplicated and a bit chaotic. SOA governance will help contain the mess, providing a “policy framework for the optimal usage of cloud services, and ensure proper security in interactions between on-premise and cloud-based IT resources, including disparate applications, platforms, and infrastructure.

Sharma highlights two elements missing in today’s view of the cloud: integration and governance. Organizations, consultants, and vendors have been working on these issues for almost a decade now, and SOA has matured to the point where it provides a “turnkey-ready” implementation blueprint for cloud computing projects.

Whether cloud services are being called from outside the firewall, or from systems within, they need to be well orchestrated and capable of being adapted and assembled against whatever business process flows are required. There’s no need to fight the same battles all over again. Many of the questions and uncertainties around integration and governance have already been hammered out within the SOA community.

Autonomous Vehicles - Many Non-Technology Aspects to be Worked Out

Without a doubt, driverless cars (and perhaps aircraft and their imminent arrival) will bring a new set of problems, questions, and -- of course -- legislation. Peter Wayner discusses some aspect in this video at SlashDot.

The idea of data gathering is integral to robot-driven cars. The U.S. Congress is moving forward with legislation on just such a concept.

Florida, Nevada, and California have passed laws to make self-driving cars street legal, thanks in large part with help from lobbying efforts by Google. In Europe, simpler versions (not 100% autonomous) is already going through the initial phases of exploration, and the EU is beginning to address the legal difficulties.

But some issues seem intractable. The Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (Did you know there was one? From 1949) requires that drivers "shall at all times be able to control their vehicles," and provisions against reckless driving usually require "the conscious and intentional operation of a motor vehicle." Some of that may be semantics, but other concerns are harder to dismiss. After a crash, drivers are legally obligated to stop and help the injured. What do you do if there's no one in the car?

See info about Peter Wayner's forthcoming book (the table of contents).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Will the Cloud be governed by Open Standards?

The OpenStack effort is aimed at setting the "rules of the road" for the majority of cloud computing interactions. In this Forbes article, the author describes how the best Open Source projects are generally a meritocracy; a philosophy that promotes the notion that power should be vested in individuals according to merit. Advancement in such a system is based upon perceived intellectual talent measured through examination and/or demonstrated achievement within the community. In the case of OpenStack, this is demonstrated by those who contribute code with a variety of companies currently vying for the title of top contributor.

The OpenStack approach ensures portability. Public providers (cloud service providers anyone can use) should adopt the standards that the "body politic" endorse. More customers will come to you if you can show how easy it is to migrate. Of course, all the 'big boys' don't want to make it easy to leave their service, the flip-side of such ease-of-use.

From an application development strategy adopting a service oriented architecture is a "from the ground up" approach to making portability work. As long as end points are web services, theoretically one can build solutions in *any* IAAS/PAAS. Linked via an enterprise service bus (ESB), for example, data and business logic could managed with the ultimate in reliability: having the components spread among many cloud providers. One could always move services around (assuming the provider supports the native service language (dot-net, J2EE, etc.) or data repository. With the right planning, data could be independent of the data store itself (remember XML databases, or that old standby standard, SQL92?).

Utilizing standards and open source software will aid cloud computing to achieve the kind of market success seen with the World Wide Web, e-mail and other widely used Internet offerings. And that's good for everyone.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Developers Like Agile. Users Hate It.

Read at SlashDot: "What developers see as iterative and flexible, users see as disorganized and never-ending. '... She's been frustrated by her Agile experiences — and so have her clients. "There is no process. Things fly all directions, and despite SVN [version control] developers overwrite each other and then have to have meetings to discuss why things were changed.

Too many people are involved, and, again, I repeat, there is no process.' The premise here is not that Agile sucks — quite to the contrary — but that developers have to understand how Agile processes can make users anxious, and learn to respond to those fears.

The more traditional approach is not fool-proof: 'Detailed designs and planning done prior to a project seems to provide a "safety net" to business sponsors, says Semeniuk. "By providing a Big Design Up Front you are pacifying this request by giving them a best guess based on what you know at that time — which is at best partial or incorrect in the first place."

The danger, he cautions, is when Big Design becomes Big Commitment — as sometimes business sponsors see this plan as something that needs to be tracked against. "The big concern with doing a Big Design up front is when it sets a rigid expectation that must be met, regardless of the changes and knowledge discovered along the way," says Semeniuk.

Most important take-away:

Most non-computer businesspeople are already intimidated by spending money on something they don't understand. They have to report to someone who wants an answer to, "When will this be ready, and what budget do we need to allocate? And incidentally, if it's late, it's your job on the line."
Read Esther Schindler's article at ITWorld.