Monday, July 25, 2005


I was stopped short by this proclamation, which breathlessly described iTunes as the new center of our computing universe.

Because on a large corporate network near and dear to my heart, the number one 'non-standard' protocol in use today is iTunes. Last December it was not even a blip. Start of a new year and zzooom, making for zenith. Does it rival http/https for bandwidth consumption? No, not close yet, but dang the trend is strong! I believe we'll discover soon that my world is a microcosm of the greater WWW. So what's going on here? Several developments I see as noteworthy:

  • DVDs may be the next format pitched into history's dustbin; "records" of everything demand a platform allowing for far greater plasticity

  • Walking in, all manner of consumer tech today serves business too, no geeks required for operation and integration

  • Economy (measured less often in dollars, more by ergonomics of the hand, ear or eye, and by spatial and social considerations)

  • Beyond (beyond the PC, beyond mostly static networks, beyond simple search, next generation browsers are coming soon)

Well, Ptolemy, a re-ordering of the cosmos then? Nah ..

But has a powerful new quasar formed? No doubt about it.

Catalyst overview

Catalyst, on the whole, was a very good experience. I learned a lot. I ended up staying in the Application track the whole time, although I wish I'd jumped to the ID Management track for parts of the first day. There was too much emphasis on what Burton likes to call "application superplatforms" the first day, but day 2's SOA reality check was really excellent. The application security "cross-cutting concerns on day 3 didn't really live up to its promise. The presentations just weren't integrated and collaborative enough -- each clearly came from one research practice's domain.

I do have a couple of suggestions for any Burton Group folks that might be reading this. Nowhere during registration do they make it clear that track jumping is allowed. It would be nice if they said "please pick a primary track, but you are welcome to attend others as needed." That way, I wouldn't have wasted time deciding between tracks. Also, Burton seems eager to eliminate the printed presentation option. This is a bad idea. It is so much easier to take notes on a printed copy, even if it is not completely up to date, because you don't have to supply context in your notes. You can simply circle or star a key point. You can easily refer back to previous pages. Annotations can be briefer. I'd say that The Myth of the Paperless Office should be mandatory Burton reading.

Here's what I got out of Catalyst. This isn't a rehash of what I heard, but my views on areas of discussion.
  • Even though we spent a lot of time talking about tools and technologies, the most important message is that SOA is a cultural shift which doesn't just impact IT, but the business units IT supports. Governance, funding, cost recovery, BU expectations and more all have to change. For instance, true functionalization cuts across BUs, but BUs control and fund projects. We've had a taste of this with component reuse, but this is orders of magnitude different. You have to move your organization from a project based model to a utility based model.
  • Collaboration tools are no longer side items on the menu, but part of the main course. The Social Life of Information speaks of practice and process. To be successful in the future, collaborative tools (which enhance practice) must be seamlessly meshed into the process (applications). You have to enable people to collaborate in context of the process.
  • Increasingly, vendors are trying to provide ever expanding "complete solutions" that include more and more functionality. Burton refers to these as superplatforms. When you marry the SOA vision with the legacy reality, it becomes clear that most enterprises are going to have pieces of multiple superplatforms -- a primary or desired platform certainly, and then bits and pieces of others. Vendors that give interoperability short shrift will find themselves on the losing end, eventually.
  • A services oriented application architecture benefits from a services oriented physical infrastructure. This should accelerate the virtualization of processor, disk, storage, etc.
  • All of this SOA goodness won't help you much if you don't fix your fundamental data quality and management issues. Data stewardship across the enterprise is critical -- data can't reside in BU silos.
  • If Microsoft actually delivers what Ari Bixhorn promised for Indigo, it will go a long way towards alleviating "WS-Vertigo," as Anne Thomas Manes likes to call it. While REST is clearly not appropriate for many corporate applications, I think there are some places where it is sufficient. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
  • There's still too much emphasis on network layer security, although Dan Blum of Burton disagrees with me. Seriously, there is no perimeter. Get over it, and start fixing the real problem of application layer security.
  • Nobody has really addressed the issue of trust and its related risk. WS-Trust isn't going to do it, either.

Random thoughts

Yes, it's time for another episode of random thoughts, where I dump random snippets running through my head apropos of nothing. Naturally, these episodes occur at random intervals.

  • Camp websites are a great enhancement to the summer camp experience (for parents). Nothing like seeing your child's smiling face on the web site to assure you that she's having a good time while you wait for a letter to arrive.
  • David points at the cowbell skit. More cowbell!
  • Cringely muses about a coming Intel/Microsoft battle. As usual, it's an interesting take, but I'm not sure I agree.
  • There is no substitute for sleep.
  • The Cardinals are looking more like the Memphis Redbirds these days. Thankfully, they still have a huge lead and a healthy pitching staff. They will need the bats back in September if they want to win in October.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cinema on demand

While simultaneously feeding body and mind, I found this gem on M2M. In short, even theaters won't need physical media anymore, opening up the cinema experience to the long tail.

From a technology perspective, I like the use of WiMax here. More interesting to me is the social aspect, which is the biggest difference between cinema and home viewing. The idea of my group being able to see perhaps our favorite film even though it's been out for 20 years in a cinema environment rather than stuffed into someone's den is very appealing. I could see corporate teambuilding sort of activity generating a lot of on-demand business.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Laws of Identity

Apparently, Kim Cameron was at Catalyst too. He has some interesting thoughts on identity, which is what you would expect from a blog with that name. More grist for the mill.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is cohesion disruptive?

During yesterday's panel session at Catalyst, I remarked to the
application superplatform vendors that they dissed the "good enough"
rebel platforms at their peril, since good enough always beats out those
moving to the higher end over time. I got decent answers from the IBM
and Oracle reps. The others didn't do so well.

Most interesting, though, is that Anne Thomas Manes of Burton addressed
the question during her wrapup. Her take is that cohesion is the
disruptive technology, not what the good enough vendors bring. I'm not
so sure I but that, but it is an interesting thought. More later when I
have a bigger keyboard.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Open source video

The BBC is attempting to develop truly open video in support of their charter. Good stuff!

Intranet RSS aggregator

Apparently, I'm not the only one looking for an intranet equivalent of Bloglines. Jack has a lot of good linkage. One of the comments on Andy's post indicates that Newsgator Enterprise is in beta.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hurricane on the brain

It's been just over an hour since Dennis made landfall between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach. The storm video is pretty dramatic. My heart goes out to all my friends down there. I hope you all are safe. I was on Pensacola Beach earlier this year, and it was still a mess from Ivan. Only one hotel had opened back up, and repairs hadn't even started yet on several houses.
On the positive side, my friends and family in the Mobile area were spared the brunt of the storm. So far, winds haven't topped 50 mph there.

Now Dennis is headed our way, and the current prediction is for 50 mph winds here. Things should start getting ugly around 9:00 p.m. lasting through the morning, with the peak winds about 2:00 a.m. We'd done most of our storm prep early, and finished it up this morning. So now we are just waiting, watching our favorite weatherman.

As we figured, the airport is essentially shutting down by about 6:00 p.m. and everyone expects the early morning flights to be cancelled. It's a good thing we already switched our flight to San Diego to Tuesday. I imagine there's a mad rush now.

Why San Diego? I'll be at Catalyst, and the family will be enjoying some vacation time. If Catalyst is as good as I've heard, everyone will have fun. I just hope the storm passes us without incident so we can enjoy our trip.

UPDATE: I thought we'd made it through unscathed, but we lost power at about 8:15 this morning. It hasn't been restored yet, and it may be a while.

UPDATE: Power is back! My family is ecstatic.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Feed ads? Let your readers choose

Tim Bray doesn't like InfoWorld's graphic feed ads. Others are complaining too. Chad Dickerson has a different view:
I'm biased because I work here, but I'll put a stake in the ground and say that mixing advertising in a full-text feed with content produced from a staff of writers and copy editors seems reasonable.
Well, not necessarily. Google makes a fortune from ads that are clearly marked, unobtrusive, and relevant. These graphic ads are really annoying and distract from the content. For the top news feed, the signal noise ratio is completely out of whack for me, and I've unsubscribed. If there are lots of folks with my reaction, how will these ads be a money making proposition?

I do appreciate getting full text on the columnists feed, since I don't have to click open a jillion tabs to read them. There, I'll put up with the ads because it provides an overall better experience.

Why not let your readers choose? InfoWorld says "we should probably offer an alternative feed for those who prefer the old version. Will add it to the to-do list immediately," but frankly, I don't care enough to see if they've done it. I will rely on other sources.

Sharepoint at PDC

Mike Fitzmaurice reports that there's a Sharepoint track at this year's Microsoft Professional Developers Conference. If you do Sharepoint development, it's worth checking out.

Open source directory

I was way behind on my feeds, so this may be stale news of the "Germans bomb Pearl Harbor" variety, but Red Hat has acquired Netscape Directory Server and is opening it up. Neil McAllister says:
The difference is that none of the competing products are open source -- not even Novell's. Red Hat has said it will release its directory source code under the GPL (General Public License). In addition, it will sponsor a Fedora Directory project designed to spur community-driven development of the product in much the same way the Fedora Linux project acts as a technology incubator for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
This sounds very promising. It is quite interesting to watch open source software climb up the stack.