Friday, November 28, 2008

REST of SOA the questions

After the REST of SOA a couple of people came up and asked me questions that could basically be summarised in the following
We've got a server development team that loves REST but as a Flash/Web/Ajax developer its really hard for me to work with
The two main reasons citied were
  1. The lack of PUT/DELETE from a browser, but server teams who still wanted to use it
  2. The size limit on GET
Now on the GET limit and the PUT/DELETE I suggested that the dev team should think about using a Proxy and having that map the URIs from those that work to the web to those that they want to use internally. But what it really came down to was that you had this amazing disconnect between the people doing the server side stuff and the poor buggers who had to consume it.

Technological fanatisicm doesn't work no matter what the technology.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


So last week at AdobeMAX I did my first public presentation on doing REST and SOA together. Thanks to Duane for that and to the person who dropped out leaving me with the baby :)

Now I know they recorded the audio and video so when I find that I'll link to it.

What I said was that the REST model works in the interactional space of applications, especially in those which are focused around data navigation. I admitted that I found it a bit fan-boyish when it first came out but that there are areas where it does deliver value.

Thanks to Ben Scowen I had a whole set of detail around REST as he has done a massive REST Web programme, so kudos to Ben on that. I also wanted to make sure that people who attended would have some real detail around REST rather than just the picture presentations I normally use.

My major bit on the presentation around REST was the concept of state management in REST and the fact that (for me) this is the bit that really differentiates REST and which is the hardest to get your brain around.

The other major bit was the concept of thinking about the services and then using the URIs and methods as the way to separate the implementation of the services, I used an internal example as a way to do that.

So until Adobe release the audio et al, here is just the powerpoint

What I said throughout was that it was about picking the right tool for the job and understanding what works right in your environment. Some people followed up with questions afterwards that indicated that REST isn't quite the happy place for everyone.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have Adobe done what Sun wouldn't?

Sitting here at AdobeMAX I can't help but think that Adobe have created exactly what a bunch of people, including myself, have been campaigning for in the Java space for a while. Namely a lightweight profile that concentrates on the desktop area.

I've said before about profiles being an important direction for Java and to my mind that exactly what Adobe are doing with Flex and AIR. They've created a restricted profile based on a limited (but therefore powerful) set of functionality. What they don't have is a consistent model that works on the server (they use Java for that) but they have clearly defined a profile that works.

The point here is that the "kitchen sink" mentality pushed by the core Java SE team has clearly retarded the ability of companies to innovate and deliver different approaches for different environments. We are seeing this in part in the mobile space where Apple, Google and others (including Adobe) are moving away from J2ME towards more specific approaches which are often around taking desktop technologies and shifting them onto the powerful smartphone platform. With Java SE 6 being so large this just wasn't an option in the Java space (SavaJE have done some work, but who wants all that stuff on a mobile phone? MIDI support?

So while companies like Adobe are demonstrating, as are Microsoft with Silverlight, that new models work we are seeing Java turn into an ever bigger beast. This is really sad as many of the things here at Max are stuff I've seen demo'ed in Java many, many, years ago. The problem therefore is not that Java can't do this stuff but that the trajectory that Java has been on has prevented it.

So can Java get back into the lead? Potentially, but it requires a fundamental reassessment of how Sun view Java, both its core and the profiles and models that are acceptable. With the JCP appearing to be abandoned for Java SE 7 the omens are not great, but you never know. Until then it means we have to all start working in a mixed technology environment which is a pain in the arse, but it just isn't sensible to insist people download a web-server to run your client application.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Driving IT from the business

A short post here just to once again go over the basic principles of Business driven SOA. The goal here is that IT should be driven from the business this means
  1. Understanding what the business is about
  2. Understanding where and how IT can help the business
  3. Letting the business interact and drive IT on its terms
  4. Not thinking that the latest buzzword is the important thing
Now the goal is of course the same as before, you want to deliver an IT estate that
  1. Looks like the business
  2. Is costed based on the value it delivers to the business
  3. And evolves like the business
This therefore is about understanding where to apply new technologies and where to just cut costs and cope with what you have, or even move towards outsourcing it because it just isn't important to your business at all.

Business driven SOA is about using the right tool for the right job in the right place in the right way. Its fundamentally got to be about the delivery of technology inline with the overall business. This means it must be constrained by what can be delivered and must be inspired by what could be delivered.

As we hit the down-turn this becomes more important. Taking a technology approach is just burning company money and applying new technologies where they don't deliver the benefit is just intellectual masturbation, but worse as you are wasting the business' money doing it.

So look at the business model, look at the business services and think

"If I had half the budget what could I do and what would really have an impact"

Then look at the saving areas, look at SaaS, look at outsourcing and mainly look at how you measure and reward people to cut costs. After that think about the top line

"Now that I've saved that 50%, where can I invest 25% to drive the company upwards"

That is where you look at impact and look more at modern technologies and approaches.

To do this you have to shift your mind out of IT for a bit and look from the business side. Use your experience and knowledge to frame the approaches and answers but don't forget that the goal here is for the business to be driving.

Business SOA is hard, it requires a real breadth of skills, this isn't delivery to PowerPoint its delivery to live. The business doesn't want to drive a video game, its a real business and it needs a real solution.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Making the pilot a success

Okay so Gerald is off and running now, platform is deployed, some cracking problems that I'll blog about once we are 100% rolled out but the key right now is that we've got over 20,000 people to roll this out to and we need a champion. This means we need to bite off a bit that is a decent reference case but is also manageable.

All too often people go at these programmes and just because they can roll the technology out to all the people it means that its successful. It isn't successful until everyone is using the solution. This means good references and good credentials and a strong roll-out plan that includes briefings and training.

Technology deployment is easy, but doing it too fast can really hit your ability to deliver successfully. Provisioning everyone of those 20,000 people could be done tomorrow but that would create confusion and push-back which would ultimately lead to the failure of the programme.

So pick your champion, pick your pilot and make them look like a rock star.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Can the US Government now hack my computer?

Okay so I've decided (for once) to get ahead of the game and register with the new big brother system that will allow me to travel into the US, something that you have to do in advance now

The warning popup is quite a sight
This Department of Homeland Security (DHS) computer system and any related equipment is subject to monitoring for administrative oversight, law enforcement, criminal investigative purposes, inquiries into alleged wrongdoing or misuse, and to ensure proper performance of applicable security features and procedures. As part of this monitoring, DHS may acquire, access, retain, intercept, capture, retrieve, record, read, inspect, analyze, audit, copy and disclose any information processed, transmitted, received, communicated, and stored within the computer system. If monitoring reveals possible misuse or criminal activity, notice of such may be provided to appropriate supervisory personnel and law enforcement officials. DHS may conduct these activities in any manner without further notice. By clicking OK below or by using this system, you consent to the terms set forth in this notice.

The highlight is mine. Does this mean that in order to go to the US I must allow the US government to hack my computer?

The other good bit is that the dialogue only has an OK button, you can't even cancel and get out.

I just thought "you can't do that" then suddenly remembered what the response will be "yes we can".

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

MSN v Google.... does Microsoft own MSN?

Just updating a home PC to XP SP3 to install the wonderful Adobe CS4 so I did a search on IE on for "XP SP3" and got....

Google of course redirect straight to the XP SP3 download.

Seriously if you can't get your own terms right how credible will people think you are?

The general point here is about credibility. Don't make up numbers that can be easily disproven and make sure that operational tests actually work.

Simply put undersell and over deliver.

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