Archive for the 'wsdm' Category

Is SOA dead?

There has been a lot of fuss since the start of the new year around the theme “SOA is dead”. Much of this has been attributed to Anne Thomas Manes blog entry on the Burton Groups blog, here.

Infoworlds Paul Krill jumper on the bandwagon with a SOA obituary, qouting Annes work and say “SOA is dead but services will live on”. A quick fire response came on a number of fronts, like this one from Duane Nickull at Adobe, and then this from James Governor at Redmonk, where he charismatically claims, “everything is dead”.

First up, many times in my career, and James touches on a few of the key ones, since we were there together, or rather, I took advantage of his newness and thirst for knowledge as a junior reporter, to explain to him how mainframes worked, and what the software could be made to do. I knew from 10-years before I met James that evangelists and those with an agenda, would often claim something was “dead”. It came from the early 1980’s mainframe “wars” – yes, before there was a PC, we were having our own internal battles, this was dead, that was dead, etc.

What I learned from that experience, is that technical people form crowds. Just like the public hangings in the middle ages, they are all too quick to stand around and shout “hang-him”. These days it’s a bit more complex, first off there’s Slashdot, then we have the modern equivalent of speakers corner, aka blogs, where often those who shout loudest and most frequently, get heard more often. However, what most people want is not a one sided rant, but to understand the issues. Claiming anything is dead often gives the claimer the right not to understand the thing that is supposedly “dead” but to just give reasons why that must be so and move on to give advice on what you should do instead. It was similar debate last year that motivated me to document my “evangelsim” years on the about page on my blog.

The first time I heard SOA is dead, wasn’t Annes blog, it wasn’t even as John Willis, aka botchagalupe on twitter, claims in his cloud drop #38 him and Michael Cote of Redmonk last year. No sir, it was back in June 2007, when reprinted a Clive Longbottom, Head of Research at Quocirca, under the headline SOA – Dead or Alive?

Clive got closest to the real reasons of why SOA came about, in my opinion, and thus why SOA will prevail, despite rumours of its’ demise. It is not just services, from my perspective, it is about truly transactional services, which are often part of a workflow process.

Not that I’m about to claim that IBM invited SOA, or that my role in either the IBM SWG SOA initiative, or the IBM STG services initiative was anything other than as a team player rather than as a lead. However, I did spend much of 2003/4 working across both divisions, trying to explain the differences and similarities between the two, and why one needed the other, or at least its relationships. And then IBM marketed the heck out of SOA.

One of the things we wanted to do was to unite the different server types around a common messaging and event architecture. There was  almost no requirement for this to be syncronous and a lot of reasons for it to be services based. Many of us had just come from the evolution of object technology inside IBM and from working on making Java efficient within our servers. Thus, as services based approach seemed for many reasons the best one. 

However, when you looked at the types of messages and events that would be sent between systems, many of them could be cruicial to effective and efficient running of the infrastructure, they had in effect, transactional charateristics. That is, given Event-a could initiate actions A, then b, then c and finally d. While action-d could be started before action-c, it couldn’t be started until action-b was completed, and this was dependent on action-a. Importantally, none of these actions should be performed more than once for each instance of an event.

Think failure of a database or transactional server. Create new virtual server, boot os, start application/database server, rollback incomplete transactions, take over network etc. Or similar.

Around the same time, inside IBM, Beth Hutchison and others at IBM Hursley, along with smart people like Steve Graham, now at EMC, and Mandy Chessell also of IBM Hursley were trying to solve similar trascational type problems over http and using web services.

While the Server group folks headed down the Grid, Grid Services and ultimately Web Service Resource  Framework, inside IBM we came to the same conclusion, incompatible messages, incompatible systems, different architectures, legacy systems etc. need to interoperate and for that you need a framework and set of guidelines. Build this out from an infrastructure layer, to an application level; add in customer applications and that framework; and then scale it in any meaningful, that need more than a few programmers working concurrently on the same code, or on the same set of services, and what you needed was a services oriented architecture.

Now, I completely get the REST style of implementation and programming. There is no doubt that it could take over the world. From the perspective of those frantically building web mashups and cloud designs, already has. In none of the “SOA is dead” articles has anyone effectively discussed syncronous transactions, in fact apart from Clive Longbottoms piece, no real discussion was given to workflow, let alone the atomic transaction.

I’m not in denial here of what Amazon and Google are doing. Sure both do transactions, both were built from the ground-up around a services based architecture. Now, many of those who argue that “SOA is dead” are often those who want to move onto the emporers new clothes. However, as fast as applications are being moved to the cloud, many businesses are nowhere in sight moving or exploiting the cloud. To help them get there, they’ll need to know how to do it and for that they’ll need a roadmap, a framework and set of guidelines, and if it includes their legacy applications and systems, how they get there, For that, they’ll likely need more than a strategy, they’ll need a services “oriented” architecture.

So, I guess we’ve arrived at the end, the same conclusion that many others have come to. But for me it is always about context.

I have to run now, literally. My weekly long run is Sunday afternoon and my running buddy @mstoonces will show up any minute. Also, given I’m starting my new job, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to respond to your comments, but I welcome the discussion!

Clouds and the governor

I’ve been meaning to respond to Monkchips speculation over IBM and Amazon from last year his follow-up why Amazon don’t need IBM. James and I met-up briefly before Christmas, the day I resigned from IBM UK but we ran out of time to discuss that. I wrote and posted a draft and never got around to finishing it, I was missing context. Then yesterday James published a blog entry entitled “15 Ways to Tell Its Not Cloud Computing”.

The straw that broke the camels back was today, on chinposin Friday, James was clearly hustling for a bite when he tweeted “amazed i didn’t get more play for cloud computing blog”.

Well here you go James. Your analysis and simple list of 15-reasons why it is not a cloud is entertaining, but it’s not analysis, it’s cheerleading.

I’m not going to trawl through the list and dissect it one by one, I’ll just go with the first entry and then revert to discussing the bigger issue. James says “If you peel back the label and its says “Grid” or “OGSA” underneath… its not a cloud.” – Why is that James? How do you advocate organizations build clouds?
Continue reading ‘Clouds and the governor’

neat podcast or should that be Monkcast?

A couple of weeks back, I met with Cote, or more correctly, Michael Cote, Analyst from Redmonk, for lunch. I wanted to try out some acronyms with him, talk WSDM, OSGI, SOI, Platform Management, and generally have lunch.

Turns out that Cote was off a couple of days later to Microsofts Tech Ed conference in Orlando, along with my longtime buddy and Redmonk co-founder James Governor. So it was with some interest when Cote posted a twitter entry about the MonkCast #4: ‘URL-based computing’ closer to reality (and so too is the GPLv3) – I was interested in what Cote had heard about MS management efforts.

I had a conference call late in today and right after giving a presentation on SOA and IBM System p. I found my way to a visitors desk over at the IBM Briefing Center and while waiting for the call, clicked on the link for the “monkcast” and listended to the first few minutes. After the conference call I restarted the podcast and while it was playing, I closed the lid to my IBM Thinkpad and as hoped, it kept playing. I walked down the stairs, out the door and across the street and it kept playing. Once in the car, while it was still playing, I reached into my glove compartment and found the 3.5mm to 3.5mmlead and connected my laptop the the AUX port on the GM’s stereo. I listen to it all the way home.

Then it occured to me, was I online via Wireless all the way home? Unlikely. So I guess it must have been cached on my laptop. Either way pretty neatto. No clicking on links to download, no saving files and replaying.

Despite lots of good comments and observation from Cote and the other Redmonk co-founder, Stephen O’Grady, there wasn’t much on the topics I was interested in. Worth listening though.

Monkcast #4 is here.

WSDM Collectors and Tivoli Agents

One of the emerging and in-use technologies for doing both systems and platform management is Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM). In this article on IBM Developerworks, Kyle Croutwater gives a good intro and example of how to use the IBM Tivoli® Monitoring (ITM) Universal Agent® to consume and monitor a Web Services for Distributed Management (WSDM)-compliant interface for a manageable resource using the WSDM Generic Collector Engine (WGCE).

Kyles’ article can be found on developerworks here .

Zelenka on Open Source ESBs

RedNun’s report on Open Source ESBs is published and it has some useful updates and additional information from her earlier web piece which elicited my “I’m a centrprise architect” response.

In her intro, Anne says “Lightweight open source enterprise service bus (ESB) implementations offer a low cost, scalable, and practical approach to enterprise application integration.” – I’m so with that, but as always with a spin on it. Actually an ESB would make the perfect vehicle(bus geddit?) for system infrastructure integration.

Still much to do on standards, implementations, h/w runtimes etc. but I still firmly believe this is the direction we should be going to implement genuinely interoperable hardware based components. Common messages formats, industry schema, common messaging protocols and one or more buses to intermediate for the components and manage pub/sub etc.. Dynamic, autonomic, vendor neutral hardware, we’ll get there.

My 2003-2004 book on “Virtualization and the on demand Business”, Chapter-3, spells this out a little more…

Get online with WSDM

I like scheduling calls for my morning drive to the office. It is a good time for me, I’m alert, I can be focussed on two things at once, and despite the complaints about the traffic in and around Austin, I can make from my downtown SoCo house to the IBM Office on Burnet Road in north Austin comfortably in 30-mins, usually 20-mins.

This mornings call was with Trevor to go over a number of virtualization related topics, including things like partition migration, hosting partitions or as a prefer to call them, service partitions, virtualization management, blade virtualization and more. I pointed him to the Virtualization white paper, and before I knew it I was sitting in the building 045 parking lot.

What we didn’t get to discuss was WSDM and its use to manage and monitor virtualized enviornments including partition, virtual machines and service partitions. Mike Baskey, another Distinguished Engineer and I used to work together in the on demand team, Mike has now moved over to SWG and is leading the Infrastructure Solutions, Networking and Management Standards effort. He is also the current chair of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).

Mike and I had a long conversation about WSDM last night and recent developments, plans etc. It reminded me of a number of customer related projects and how WSDM is a great solution to expose all sorts of system information via a vendor independent way. WSDM can be implemented easily, it can expose native resources or can be used with a WS-CIM bridge which allows existing CIM instrumented resource to by exposed and managed through WSDM.

If the industry gets behind WSDM it would be great. No more proprietary interfaces to hardware and software for management. The ability to manage and monitor devices, servers, storage and virtualised resources irrespective of platform or vendor. Management apps can be built in a modular fashion by linking services, in fact this is a key way that operating systems and systems management products can be built as independant services, much like a service oriented architecture for infrastructure.

When I had a few minutes this evening, I went away to find a good source of education, and some samples and examples of WSDM that I can have a refreshed on over the weekend. I found this excellent page on IBM Developerworks.

Written by Dan Jemiolo, an advisory software engineer at IBM, it looks like a great place to start. If you are involved with more than one systems platform, have systems from multiple vendors including IBM and Cisco it might well be worth taking a look at this and installing the samples and creating a WSDM server interface for an HTTP server with Apache Muse.

Let me know how you get on, or if you have any comments.

ps. Tomorows drive and talk is with an account team on how their customer can exploit the IBM Dynamic Infrastructure for mySAP and their System p servers.

About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I am a Fellow of the British Computer Society ( I'm an information technology optimist.

I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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