Tag Archives: Nerds

Enterprise Cloud: Why Size Matters

One of the biggest issues in speaking of technology trends is the natural impulse to apply a “one size fits all” approach.

People talk about technology the way they talk about the weather–it’s something that affects everyone the same way. Raining? That’s too bad about the ball game. Nice for your flower garden though.

Unfortunately, when it comes to technology, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. At the risk of losing 90% of my readers in one go, I’m going to dust off one of the great evil words in the technology industry–Enterprise. As I’ve said before, the word “Enterprise” in the phrase “Enterprise Software” has come to mean software that sucks. In fact, if you Google “Enterprise Software” (with the quotes) the number two link is “Why Enterprise Software Sucks“.

So why dust off this word? I suppose I enjoy collecting antiques.

It’s after all a perfectly good word, and can be repurposed as a pot holder or maybe a tea cozy. What I’d like to have is a word that signifies the following:

An organization that has grown in size to the point where the old tricks don’t work anymore.

Funny Pictures

* Its organization has shattered into factions
* It’s technology has separated into silos
* Its market has fragmented into niches

The big challenge is how does one maintain the advantages of size and scale but still retain agility?

I think it’s possible:
Bull headstand

So how does fragmentation affect the use of cloud?

Well in terms of complex demand, cloud principles are very exciting.

swiss army

If your market is fragmented, you will be happy to offer a platform of reusable services that can be customized by channel partners or even by end users into thousands of possible use cases. Think iPhone App Store. So for complex demand, the cloud is a good thing.

The challenge for the Enterprise and cloud is the concept of “Complex Supply”. Since both the technology in the Enterprise is already siloed, adding cloud just adds another silo. Legacy Mainframe apps, Web Application Servers, Enterprise Applications, you name it, Cloud just adds yet another technology silo to maintain, integrate, secure and govern. Since large organizations are fragmented into smaller organizations, this problem is compounded when one organization creates a dependency on cloud services without a systematic enabling architecture.

Size matters. People try to apply architectural patterns and software solutions as if they were one-size-fits all.

ass is too small

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Oracle 11g Fusion Middleware LiveBlogging and News Analysis

Stand by for Oracle Fusion 11g Middleware Launch Liveblogging and analysis from SOA Center.

Java is the new SQL
We’re on a code level orange this morning as buzz on the networks is up. Despite Oracle’s news embargo, we’re already picking up chatter that one of the big ticket items from the Oracle Fusion Middleware launch is Tera-scale Java Object cacheing.

This is a great technology trend and great thinking.

While a few startup companies have attacked the so-called “Complex Event Processing” space (CEP), they have done so using esoteric APIs such as SQL query-like APIs for example StreamBase. This is an early-adopter (read:sucker) approach because who wants to build completely new applications?

There’s a clear answer to that rhetorical question: very few do. To see Coral8 be swallowed up by Aleri and other CEP vendors struggling out there, it’s clear that only the edgy applications such as fraud and intrusion detection, networked battlefield, casino gaming and a few other apps need the combination of real time and massive event window correlation provided by CEP. Whenever there’s a “paradigm shift”, look for a Moore’s Law style 10x improvement underlying it.

New business paradigms grow across stable interfaces (platforms) with an order of magnitude impedance mismatch. Oracle and the relational database ecosystem grew originally on top of SQL and the spinning disk drive platter and has maintained its advantage because of this mismatch. Adobe grew on top of PostScript and originally at the boundary between the printer and personal computer. BEA grew on top of the Java API through their timely acquisition of WebLogic, through the boundary between the “computer” and the “network”.

So what’s the 10x (or more) improvement in the underlying platform? It’s the expansion of RAM which is experiencing a Moore’s-law like doubling interval. The difference between spinning disk (millisecond scale) and RAM (nanosecond scale) is six or seven orders of magnitude.

So what are the implications for this huge shift into RAM? Well, there’s already some wonderful cacheing technologies like Tangosol (Oracle already bought them) that deal with pure SQL. But the age of the relational SQL API is coming to a close. Now like any good legacy, SQL will be immortal just like COBOL. But the emerging dominant API will be much more about the network and developer than about the underlying technology. What API better than Java? We see another company, Terracotta systems taking single VM Java semantics and clustering them using aspect technology from a crashed UFO. We see RNA Networks putting JMS onto a RAM cacheing box and kicking TIBCO out of a hedge fund company.

So SQL is toast.

The future of low latency has come, and it looks like Java.

So what does this say about Oracle’s strategy for forming SNORKEL, the Sun acquisition? Well, at the risk of reductio ad absurdum, having bought BEA and Sun, Larry Ellison sees Java as the new SQL.

Stay tuned for more news analysis and liveblogging.

my 2 cents,

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Getting fit for SOA with Governance Tools

So there’s been a lot of blogs lately about SOA tooling including from Dave Linthicum.

He writes:

First, only purchase SOA governance technology, if it’s indeed needed, after you have a complete semantic-, service-, and process-level understanding of the problem domain. Never before.

Second, focus on SOA governance as an approach and practice, not as technology. Create a SOA governance strategy first, and make sure it’s considered during each step.

Finally, and more importantly, make sure that your architecture is independent of the technology you select.

Now I agree wholeheartedly that you should make sure the architecture is technology independent.

I can see where he’s coming from with respect to having technique come first and tooling second. But there are some very key flaws in this reasoning.

His post here says:

The end result is you spend four months with the Thigh Master and the Abdominizer and have made little progress. While the technology promised quick results and seemed easier than doing the “real work,” the reality is somewhat more sobering. There are just no short cuts to SOA and SOA governance. So, get your people and process issues solved first, focus on understanding, define your approach, and then look for any helpful technology.

While I do agree that there’s no shortcut with SOA Adoption skills and that skills are critical to adoption, the relationship between tools and skills is completely wrongly stated here. The metaphor of the Abdominizer seems to indicate that tooling for SOA Governance is like a fancy toy that ends up in your closet.

This could not be further from the truth and is a dangerous way of looking at it. Without governance and policy enforcement capabilities, your SOA will run away from you and eventually be unable to attain any significant scale. A better analogy may be the tools that a sculptor uses.

Now you might want to get started sculpting wood, in which case you need simple chisel and hammer. Eventually you may move to marble. You could argue that in the beginning, clay sculptures that require no tools might be best. But eventually if your architecture is going to be the basis for a strong implementation, you will go to marble.

So I dont mind you practicing on clay, but dont think your final SOA is going to be built out of clay. Now a high quality sculpting chisel and hammer is useless in the hands of a moron. But even Michaelangelo will not try to carve marble with his bare hands.

Try doing SOA adoption without governance tooling, both runtime and lifecycle tooling. You’ll be in hot water fast.

My 2 cents.

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Japanese technology leadership: a view from Silicon Valley

After speaking at the Business Innovation Forum in Japan, I did some thinking about the unique form of technology leadership found in Japan.

Japan has been going through some tough times economically… but it’s important to reflect on the unique strengths of Japan with respect to the digital age and the emerging global network culture. If you study the “hits” that have come from Japan from a Silicon Valley perspective.

One of the biggest “hits” from Japan lately is the Nintendo “Wii” console. I’ve been playing with the Wii Fit balance board this weekend and find that it’s quite an amazing extension of the immersive technology first seen in the Wii console. This goes beyond the kind of early-90’s “virtual reality” goggles immersion and gets closer to haptic and cybernetic interface that maps to an understanding of kinesthetics. How can kinesthetics impact the human/technology interface? Yoga is a “technology” that has been developed in Asia for at least 5000 years. Yoga explores the connection between the body and mind–so what can computer add to this? The Wii Fit console provides instruction, guidance and tracking of goals that stretch from weeks to months to years–a personalized experience of your own body. The quality of the yoga instruction isnt comparable to, say raviana.com, but this is for beginners working on basics.

What’s uniquely japanese about the Nintendo Wii? A great many things, including the connection to the fantasy universe of Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto. But the distinguishing feature that I think is both exportable worldwide and deeply japanese is the harmony between human nature and the machine world.

One of the roots of Western thought is the philosophy of Descartes, whose philosophy proposed a separation between the mind and the body (mind-body dualism). Another separation that is fundamental in western thought as documented in the Old Testament is the position of humans as distinct from animals–made in God’s image and assigned to rule over the animals of the earth. The philosophy that illuminates Japanese theology is Shinto, which is animistic–in which spirit occupies humans and nature in equal measure. Now I’m only highlighting these differences because I believe the combination of the human and the natural is reflected in the Japanese approach to technology.

Japan has leadership in climate modeling supercomputers. The robot dog, Aibo was born and bred in Japan. The Toyota Prius, the worlds most popular hybrid car. The ability to blend the technological, the natural and yes, the spiritual aspects of human experience is part of Japanese technology leadership.

One aspect of Japanese technology that is hard to export is the social aspect. Whether it’s the famous shinkansen high speed rail system or the iMode cell phone ecosystem–it’s hard to separate technology adoption from technology invention.

The ability to blend the world of technology with the world of nature gives me confidence that SOA Governance will take root in Japan… The ability to combine an understanding of human nature, tribalism, organizational behavior and advanced technology will be a key driver in the adoption of these technologies in Japan.

My 2 cents,

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