"We've been studying competition in all U.S. industries, not just the high-tech ones, and we've observed a remarkable pattern: On average, the whole U.S. economy has become more "Schumpeterian" since the mid-1990s. What's more, these changes have been greatest in the industries that buy the most software and computer hardware."
This post's title is cribbed from Celent's Latest "Report on SOA in Insurance 2007". The report is primarily the result of surveys conducted by Celent with a number of insurers and includes mid size to large carriers (premiums > $1 billion). The report is mildly interesting for someone in the midst of deploying SOA techniques/technologies in the insurance industry (namely me;) but clearly reiterates three key points:
- The promise of a fully realized SOA enabled infrastructure is alluring and there is an incredible amount of hype around the potential.
- Building out a fully realized SOA enabled infrastructure is hard and will take time
- Even small steps toward SOA can pay dividends so get started now!
I Think the quote below best summarizes this:Celent - Web Services and SOA in Insurance 2007
While the model may not be very sexy, Celent believes that for the next two years Web services/SOA in insurance will remain essentially a "Plumbing" issue - a set of technologies and practices that make it more efficient to share data and transactional capabilities between systems, both internal and external, in a reusable way that allows the value of systems investments to be leveraged repeatedly in subsequent initiatives. While this may not get the CEO's attention, it is absolutely key to the CIO's mission to do more with less.
So get started... Each company is unique in its own way and requires it's on approach but don't get caught up in analysis paralysis. Do not wait for the perfect project or tool. Starting allows you to "do" and doing allows you to learn from the experience. Learning allows you to adapt and "do" again providing opportunity to continually improve as you go. "Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good!"
It is always interesting to hear Steve Ballmer spin Microsoft's latest marketing, product, technical, whatever announcement. As if on cue eWeek.com published an article titled
Quoting Steve Ballmer characterizing the move as a "big bold bet". I just had to laugh. How could anyone view this as a "bet" in the current technology environment. About the only part of this decision that could be considered a risk is weather to use the W3C "formal" Web Services specifications or a more lean REST based architecture. Granted the formal Web Services specifications are starting to get that hairball consistency, but there are still valid reasons to go either way.The article goes on to state...
Microsoft believes Web services will work in tandem with PC-installed software, a vision that differs from that of "software as a service" advocates, such as Salesforce.com and Google, who expect services delivered over the Web to replace traditional software... "We believe this shift is the most important technological transformation during the next decade," Ballmer said.
Aahhh.... now this is more like it. I began to have a flashback. [the screen goes fuzzy and "Dreamweaver" begins to play in the background...] In my days at Viant Corp. during the Web 1.0 heyday (don't remember if it was 98 or 99), I had the privilege of being invited to Seattle for a special Microsoft conference. Before I arrived, I didn't have any other information than that it was a selected audience of internet savvy technology partners.Microsoft began by discussing what they felt was a challenge for them. They were encountering both resistance and lack of interest to using their products any deeper in Corporate America than the desktop. The biggest issue seemed to be the integration challenge. Unix seemed to be the OS lingua franca for integration projects and Sun was selling servers by the boat load.Microsoft proposed that they were considering XML messaging as the lingua franca for their platform and were seriously looking into embedding its use throughout all its products. From applications like Excel, Outlook right down to the core operating system, all would expose access to features through XML messaging. I was not a Microsoft fan at the time, but the idea was exciting, Microsoft even had a cool code name for it... "Mega Services!".Alas, although Microsoft bore SOAP and .NET, the vision never seemed to fully pan out in the way described in that conference. This latest announcement is probably the closest they've come and is a step in the right direction, but I still hope for a day when the vision is fulfilled;)
Sorry, I just can't hold my tongue on this one. There has been a number of technology pundits waxing on about whether or not we're in another tech bubble. I couldn't decide myself either. It sure feels like there is enough froth around Web 2.0 and Me-To startups to say yes. But having lived through the first one, something is missing... Could this be it?
A few years ago I worked at an incubator called 12 Entrepreneuring. It was during the heady but waning days of the internet boom. 12 was in the midst of incubating Grand Central Networks, an integration network company. I was asked to help temporarily with the conceptual design and architecture on the project, which was based in the San Francisco office, until the New York office (my eventual homebase) was up and running.My background was in systems integration at the enterprise level. I felt that the value of the network would be to provide a rich set of pre-integrated business partners and industry aware components. My point was to align with the business and not be purely technology focused. Founder Halsey Minor pushed to keep the service simple. His catch phrase was "a better FTP". Alas, Grand Central Networks has gone the way of many a startup.Alignment with business is where the industry is finally heading... In an effort to differentiate themselves in the inevitable arms race like spiral of the integration market, webMethods has sought and received SWIFT Certification. Banks looking to upgrade their SWIFT integration technology now have a reason to seriously consider webMethods. iWay Software, as the adapter company has been at the forefront of supporting industry protocols such as SWIFT, FIX, HIPAA, etc. and is pushing into insurance with ACORD. Yes, vendors will continue to add bells and whistles to their products but I expect them to become more tightly aligned with various industries and their standards. A tool that is already aware of your industry's standard processes and vocabulary is incredibly valuable.
I actually read this eWeek article on my way into work in it's print form. (A one hour train ride into NY City every day can do wonders for your reading backlog...) I liked some of the points so much, that I tracked down the online version so I could blog it here.Essentially, poor code quality can have as much of an impact on security as the hackers themselves.
"In 2004, Internet Explorer had a publicly revealed vulnerability that had not been patched on 98 percent of the days [of that year]. Firefox was vulnerable on 7 percent of the days [ of that year]. That tells you that what the application developers are doing can make a big difference." David WagnerI'm a strong proponent of code inspections, especially automation of the more mundane but insane little detail checking. But it has always amazed me how hard it is to get managements approval to purchase inspection tools. It usually comes quickly though, once one of those small mistakes has caused a big problem. Bill Pugh points out the other side of the coin... that everyone makes mistakes, even the smartest of developers.
"A lot of people think that errors and defects and stupid mistakes are things that the "lesser programmers" make. One of the things that I've found is that tools find insanely embarrassing bugs, written in production code, by some of the very best programmers I know." Bill Pugh
I'm contemplating the week @ JavaOne while I wait for my flight at the airport.
Representation State Transfer or REST popped up in a number of talks... Simplicity and leverage of the standard Web infrastructure are it's primary benefits, but a big drawback is that it is not discoverable... although there is work being done in this area.
XML processing continues to receive improved support..... Mark Reinhold gave a brain dump of his thoughts on how XML can be made "native" to Java in Dolphin.
Back To Basics....
JEE - The Java Enterprise Edition version 5 has made good use of Tigers annotation capabilities and lessons learned from the Spring Framework and simplified the EJB specification considerable. Some would still say it wasn't enough and that Spring's POJO model is still the way to go.
SOA - Although vendors continue to introduce products that support all the latest standards and clain "Buzzword" compliance, there is an undercurrent of chatter from attendees that "things" are overly complex... The S in SOAP stands for Simple, but anyone who has read the WS-* specifications can attest to the fact that the Web Services space seems to be spiraling out of control. There were a number of well attended talks in the REST space and mention of WOA as a simpler more scalable alternative to SOA.
Finally, there was a continuous call for participation of individuals in the JCP. Doug Lea, spec lead for JSR 166, was called out as an excellent example of how individuals can have large impact on the language and platform.
I finally listened to the Oracle Keynote from yesterday... Oracle is excited about the Java persistence API specification. Surprise, surprise! The demoed the JPA from within JDeveloper. Point and squish as the saying goes. Thomas Kurian went on to discuss Oracle's concept of a Service Fabric. Basically a Service Neutral, transport and protocol independent infrastructure on top of the Spring Framework. Hmm, sounds like something that Grahm Glass, founder of Minda Electric was working on before his company was aquired by WebMethods.So here is today's annotated schedule.
It's Not Over Till the Fat Client Sings - An interesting take on why AJAX is a poor mans substitute for a good Swing Application. I don't entirely agree, but AJAX has it's issues and Sun has been polishing Swing for some time now. There is something to be said for working in a less than ideal application (Browser) that has 100% desktop penetration versus an environment that is significantly lower (Java @ 60% if you believe Sun)
|11:00AM||Java Technology, AJAX, Web 2.0 and SOA - a buzzword compliant industry panel.|
|12:15PM||New Compiler Optimizations in the Java HotSpot Virtual Machine - I always like to stay on top of the new plumbing, especially in terms of performance. This talk is always worth it.|
|01:30PM||Desktop Patterns and Data Binding - not what I expected... Just an esoteric discussion on Swing and pure implementation strategies of the MVC pattern.|
|02:45PM||Extreme GUI Makeover: Lookin' Better - This talk is always excellent. The presenters take a how-hum user interface and do an extreme make over using the latest UI techniques... Always cool. The slides don't do it justice. You need to see a demo of the application, before then after.|
|04:00PM||Practical SOA Business Integration using OpenESB - A "How To" session on the use of OpenESB. Nothing special here.|
Discovery and Dependency Injection Patterns in Modular Architectures - Discusses the NetBeans Lookup Library. The presenters kept calling it dependancy injection, but I thought it sounded more like a modified Locator Pattern. Martin fowler has a nice write-up about Dependency Injection and the Locator Pattern.
Memory Leaks in Java Technology-Based Applications: Different Tools for Different Types of Leaks - Excellent talk on this subject by Gregg Sporar. He has promised to post a writeup of this talk on his web log in the comming weeks.
JSRs 236 and 237: Concurrency Utilities for the JavaÃ'™ EE Platform in Practice - This is basically the adaption of JSR 166 Concurrency Utilities to Java Enterprise Edition. I had particular need for this capability while at a Power Utility client awhile back so I've felt the pain. I'm happy that they're working on this.
Database Refactoring: Enabling Evolutionary Database Development - I ran out of gas before attending this one. I'll have to pickup the book;)
- 8:30AM Oracle General Session (missed)
- 9:45AM Java EE BluePrints for AJAX-Enabled Web 2.0 Applications. If you have to start out by explaining Web 2.0 and AJAX to your audience you've wasted time in getting to why we were all there. The BluesPrints!
- 11:00 AM The SOA Programming Model. Basically a run through the Service Component Architecture (SCA). This seems targeted for big enterprises... Another acronym to help product vendors push product.\
- 12:15PM Spring Framework Update. A lot of excellent work by Rod Johnson and his team has gone into Spring 2.0. Too bad they couldn't get it out the door by JavaOne. But should be ready any day now.
- 01:30PM Integrating XML into the Java Programming Language. Any time you can attend a talk by Mark Reinhold you should. He never disappoints.
- 2:45PM JUnit4 and Java SE5 Better Testing by Design. Kent Beck is also a great speaker. He's not very dynamic, but his presentations come from a depth of experience... Especially with design. Loved his point about unit testing. Roughly paraphrased as "If it's hard to construct a test, there is probably a problem in the design."
- 4:00PM The Java Memory Model: The Building Block of Concurrency. Bill Pugh has been the champion in this area for years. I've been attending this talk each Year at JavaOne since I read both editions of "Java Concurrency in Practice" by Doug Lea. Any person trying to write concurrent code should attend one of Bill's talks, read Doug's book and please please please use the standard Java concurrency toolkit java.util.concurrent.
- 5:15PM BEA General Session
- 7:30PM Birds of a Feather (BOF) "The Collections Connection" with Josh Bloch. Josh is the author of "Effective Java Programming Language Guide". Anyone programming in Java should read this book.
- 8:30PM Implementing High-Performance Web Services with Next-Generation Java Technology API's
- 9:30PM Designing Elegant Desktop Applications. This was an extremely cool talk. The presenters walked through advanced GUI technique's using Swing.
- 10:30PM XMLBeans 2.1: A Java Technology Developer's Perspective - This new release adds the standard DOM interface to the framework. Now you can manipulate an XML document with either XMLBeans or DOM and switch between them either while operating on a single document. Nice!