Showing posts with label Web 2.0. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Web 2.0. Show all posts

Monday, December 29, 2008

BriefingsDirect Analysts Make 2009 Predictions for Enterprise IT, SOA, Cloud and Business Intelligence

Edited transcript of BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcast, Vol. 35, on how analysts see cloud computing, SOA, the economy, and Obama Administration in 2009, recorded Dec. 19, 2008.

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Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the latest BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition, Vol. 35. This periodic discussion and dissection of IT infrastructure related news and events, with a panel of industry analysts and guests, comes to you with the help of our Charter Sponsor, Active Endpoints, maker of the ActiveVOS visual orchestration system. I'm your host and moderator Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Our topic this week, and this is the week of Dec. 15, 2008, marks our year-end show. Happy holidays to you all! But, rather than look back at this year in review, because the year changed really dramatically after September, I think it makes a lot more sense to look forward into 2009.

We're going to look at what trends may have changed in 2008, but with an emphasis on the impacts for IT users, and buyers and sellers in the coming year. We're going to ask our distinguished panel of analysts and experts for their predictions for IT in 2009.

To help us gaze into the crystal ball, we're joined by this week's BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights panel. Please let me welcome Jim Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Jim Kobielus: Hi, Dana. Hi, everybody.

Gardner: Tony Baer, senior analyst at Ovum.

Tony Baer: Happy holidays, Dana.

Gardner: Brad Shimmin, principal analyst at Current Analysis.

Brad Shimmin: Hi there, Dana, thanks for having me.

Gardner: Joe McKendrick, independent analyst and prolific blogger.

Joe McKendrick: Hi, Dana, and a happy Festivus to all.

Gardner: Dave Linthicum, founder of Linthicum Group.

Dave Linthicum: Hey, guys.

Gardner: Mike Meehan, senior analyst at Current Analysis.

Mike Meehan: Hello, all.

Gardner: And joining us for the first time, JP Morgenthal, senior analyst at Burton Group. Good to have you, JP.

JP Morgenthal: Thanks, Dana, and I'll jump on the Festivus wagon as well.

Shadow IT

Gardner: Let me start with the predictions. It gives me a chance to steal the thunder and get out there first.

My first prediction for 2009 is that spending from shadow IT activities will actually grow, and that the amount of money devoted to shadow IT activities will come from outside traditional IT budgets, from a variety of different sources, maybe even petty cash, and we'll see a bit of growth in these rogue activities.

At the same time, I think we will see a flattening, and in many cases a reduction, in officially sanctioned IT activities, but that the net result will actually be more spending overall across a variety of activities based on services and consulting as much as actual buying of licensed software and hardware products.

The risk is that these rogue applications can make it complex for governance, management, and even security, but that moving into these areas for business development purposes is going to be an overwhelming temptation. There will be more opportunities in the cloud, software as a service (SaaS), applications as a service, and for folks like marketers, business analysts, and business development professionals to take advantage and move in the market.

We're going to be looking at aggressive sales activities and new ways of reaching consumers of all kinds, across B2B and B2C activities.

I expect very little staff erosion in IT, but I think there will be a change in emphasis as to what IT is, defining it differently. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is going to continue to grow, but Web oriented architecture (WOA) will probably overtake it and perhaps become a catalyst to some of these rogue activities. There will be a blurring between which WOA activities happen inside IT and outside.

So, my second prediction is that inside of traditional IT we're going to find a lot of new ways to quickly cut costs. This is going to be a drill for organizations to not spend money or spend less money. Virtualization will be a big part of that. Hypervisors will perhaps go commodity, and the value-add in the virtualized environment is going to be at the stacks -- virtualized stacks or containers at the applications level.

This could then lead to more direction toward a cloud operating system and a de-facto standard could begin to emerge, which would then spur even more adoption of virtualization.

We're going to see a lot more dumping of Unix and mainframes. We are going to sunset a lot of applications that aren't essential and save on the underlying costs of supporting them. There will be some modernization of applications, but only in areas where there is low risk.

There are still going to be a lot of organizations that aren't going to want to tinker with applications that are important, even if they are running on expensive infrastructure.

My third prediction is around extreme business intelligence (BI). There will be a move in scale, larger sets of data, larger sets of content, and more mingling or joining of disparate types of data and content in order to draw inferences about what the customers are willing to do and pay across both B2B and B2C activities.

We'll start to see an increased use of multi-core and parallelism to support these BI activities, and we will begin to see IT have a big role in this. This isn't something you can do as a rogue activity, but it might end up supporting rogue activities. That is to say, these new extreme BI activities might lead organizations to seek out services outside of IT. They then can execute on what they find through their analysis.

I also predict, at number four, that upgrades will suffer. Were not going to see a lot of swapping out of one system for another, unless there's a very compelling return-on-investment (ROI) scenario with verifiable short-term metrics. This is going to hurt companies like SAP and Microsoft, and Oracle and IBM to a lesser extent, given their diversification.

Trouble for Windows 7

I think Windows 7 is in trouble. People are not going to just run to Windows 7. They're going to continue to stay with XP, and this makes the timing around the Vista debacle all the more injurious to Microsoft. In hindsight, Vista needed to be a winner. Now that we're in a downturn, people are going to stick with what they have, and, of course, upgrades are essential for Microsoft to continue with its back-end strategy on data-center architecture and infrastructure.

This provides more of an opening for Linux and non-Microsoft virtualization, and that will continue. This could mean that Microsoft needs to move to its cloud offerings all the more quickly, which then could actually spell earnings troubles for the company, at least in the short to medium term.

My last prediction is that the role of social media and networks will continue to grow and be impactful for enterprises, as marketers and salespeople begin to look to these organizations from the metadata and inference about what customers are willing to buy, particularly under tight economic conditions.

There's going to be a need to tie traditional customer relationship management (CRM) and sales applications with some sort of a process overlay into the metadata that's available from these Web-based cloud environments, where users have shared so much inference and data about themselves.

So, I look for some mashups between social data and the sales and business development, perhaps through these rogue applications and approaches outside of IT, but IT activities nonetheless, in 2009. Thanks.

Jim Kobielus, you're up. What are your five predictions?

Kobielus: I need to go home now. You stole all my predictions. Actually, that was great, Dana. I was taking notes, just to make sure that I don't repeat too many of your points unnecessarily, although I do want to steal everything you just said.

My five predictions for 2009 ... I'll start by listing them under a quick phrase and then I'll elaborate very quickly. I don't want to steal everybody else's thunder.

The five broad categories of prediction for 2009 are: Number one, Obama. Number two, cloud. Number three, recession. Number four, GRC -- that's governance, risk, and compliance. Then, number five, social networking.

Let me just start with [U.S. President Elect Barack] Obama. Obviously, we're going to have a new president in 2009. He'll most likely appoint a national chief technology officer or a national tech policy coordinator. Based on his appointment so far, I think Obama is going to choose a heavy hitter who has huge credibility and stature in the IT space.

We've batted around various names, and I'm not going to add more to the mix now. Whoever it is, it's going to be someone who's going to focus on SOA at a national level, in terms of how we, as a country, can take advantage of reusing agility, transformation, optimization, and all the other benefits that come from SOA properly implemented across different agencies.

So, number one, I think Obama is going to make a major change in how the government deploys IT assets and spends them.

The maturing of clouds

Number two, cloud. Dana went to town on cloud, and I am not going to say much more, beyond the fact that in 2009, clouds are going to become less of a work in progress, in terms of public clouds and private clouds, and become more of a mature reality, in terms of how enterprises acquire functionality, how they acquire applications and platforms.

I break out the cloud developments in 2009 into a long alliterative list. Clouds will start up in greater numbers. They will stratify, which means that the vendors, like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon and others with their cloud offerings, will build full stacks, strata, in their cloud services that include all the appropriate layers, application components, integration services, and platforms. So, the industry will converge on a more of a reference model for cloud in 2009.

They'll also stabilize the clouds. In other words, they'll become more mature, stable and less scary for corporate IT to move applications and data to. They'll standardize, and the clouds will standardize around SOA and WOA standards. There will be more standards, interfaces, and application programming interfaces (APIs) focused on cloud computing, so you can move your applications and data from one cloud to another a bit more seamlessly than you can now with these proprietary clouds that are out there. And, there are other "S" items that I won't share here.

Number three, recession. Clearly, we are in a deep funk, and it might get a lot worse before it gets better. That's clearly hammering all IT budgets everywhere. So, as Dana said, every user and every organization is going to look for opportunities to save money on their IT budgets.

They're going to put a freeze on projects. They're going to delay or cancel upgrades. Their users, as you said very nicely, Dana, are going to dip into petty cash and go around IT to get what they need. They're going to go to cloud offerings. So, the recession will hammer the entire IT industry and all budgets.

As far as GRC, government is cracking down. If it has to bail out the financial-services industry, bail out the auto industry, and bail out other industries, the government is not going to do it with no strings attached.

Compliance, regulations, reporting requirements, the whole apparatus of GRC will be brought to bear on the industries that the government is saving and bailing out.

Then finally, social networking. Dana provided a very good discussion of how social networking will pervade everything in terms of applications and services.

The Obama campaign set the stage clearly for more WOA-style, Web 2.0, or social-networking style governance in this country and other countries. So, we'll see more uptake of social networking.

We'll see more BI become social networking, in the sense of mashup as a style of BI application, reporting, dashboards, and development. Mashups for user self-service BI development will come to the fore. It will be a huge theme in the BI space in 2009 and beyond of that.

That really plays into the whole cost control theme, which is that IT will be severely constrained in terms of budget and manpower. They're going to push more of the development work to the end user. The end user will build reports that heretofore you've relied on data modelers to build for you. Those are my five.

Gardner: Thank you, Jim. Tony Baer, you're up. What did we miss?

Cost savings, cost savings

Baer: It's going to be hard to top both of you folks, so I'm going to just add some things in the margins. If I were to make one elevator statement on this, I feel like the guy [Kenan Thompson as Oscar Rogers] from Saturday Night Live, the economic expert, who they interview on "Weekend Update." He starts to give all the causes. Then, he just says, "Well, just fix it!"

That's essentially going to be the theme this year. The top five are going to be cost savings, cost savings, cost savings.

That does involve a lot of the strategies that both you and Jim have just described. For one thing, it's going to put a lot more emphasis on using the resources and infrastructure that you already have. It's going to damp down entering into new long-term contracts for anything.

Ironically, one result of that is that for the moment, you'll actually see little less emphasis on outsourcing, because that does imply a long-term contract. The fact is, I don't think anyone is really doing any meaningful projecting beyond Q1. I was just reviewing Adobe's year-end numbers and projections. Normally, they project out for the full fiscal year, and they are only going to project out for the Q1.

I'll just go through a very quick laundry list. For one thing, as I mentioned, it's going to be a lot of low cost, no cost. There will be a lot more use of open source, a lot more. This is definitely the year that the cloud and SaaS come into their own, but with a key qualification.

I think it's going to be managed clouds. Essentially, to take advantage of raw clouds, like Amazon EC2 you have to put in more of your own management infrastructure. I don't see the use of what I would call "clouds in the wild." I see more managed clouds from that standpoint.

For IT organizations, it's going to dictate more attention to IT service management to show that we're not just keeping systems going and keeping the lights on, but more along the lines of, "Here are the services that we're delivering to the business," as they try to justify the system.

On the back-end, it will be "Use more of what you have," and huge renewed investments in BI. So, Jim, I do think you still have a job this year.

Finally, because it's going to take a while for this to unfold -- you just don't regulate overnight -- there will be much greater attention to GRC.

Gardner: Thank you, Tony. Brad Shimmin, you're up.

Shimmin: Thanks, Dana. For my predictions for 2009 I took a different tact in anticipation of a new analytical concern we're starting up here in January. It's going to focus on collaboration. So, everything I did settled on that.

All the predictions I have stem from the themes that you guys have been talking about: cutting cost, such as travel, and squeezing efficiencies out of the IT infrastructure, as well as the users themselves. So, bear that in mind as I go through this.

Collaborative social networks

The first one for me is vendors tackling enterprise-plus-consumer based social networks, a blended view of those. Enterprise-focused vendors are going to do more than simply sink info from public sites like Facebook. They're going to take that information and build into or out from the enterprise into those social networks and drive information from those. It's going to become a two-way street.

You're going to see folks like Facebook, and most notably, LinkedIn, working in the other direction themselves, and with third parties, to develop enterprise-bound social networks. Look for those to emerge next year.

The second thing for me is cloud software, now that it's jumped the shark. I know we've all been talking about it, but it's definitely jumped the shark for me. I see the vendors within the collaboration space settling beyond the small and medium business (SMB) market and looking more toward the larger enterprises that are looking to squeeze more out of their existing IT infrastructure or cut costs.

Folks like IBM and Microsoft have already shown us that they can hit the long tail with stuff like Bluehouse and Microsoft Online Services (MOS) for collaboration. But, you're going to see vendors like Cisco and Oracle take up this challenge with more of a focus on managed hosting services that look more like SaaS, but they are really managed.

That's something that will appeal to the larger enterprises, owing to security, manageability, and other assurances that you get from that, not just pure-play, do-it-yourself SaaS.

The third thing for me is that enterprises are going to move away from a steep hierarchy, or the word might be "oligarchy," of an organizational model internally. This is just about how enterprises structure themselves.

This goes back to what you were saying, Dana, with stuff going off the books, and what Tony was saying about driving revenue from places other than CAPEX. Instead, to become not just more efficient and agile, companies are going to want to self organize to create these internal ecosystems, if you will, where organizations are built around employee experience, associations, interests, and energy levels -- what they want to focus on.

That's going to allow companies to more efficiently harness the users. The people, as Jim was saying earlier, perhaps are going to be tasked with setting up their own BI queries and mashing up their own applications. It's really thinking about those people, giving them the ability to run the show inside of an organization, instead of waiting for everything to come top-down.

The fourth thing for me is -- speaking in terms of communities, both internally and externally -- I am seeing silos breakdown between those.

Gone are the days of consumer-faced social networking and enterprise-faced social networking existing as independent entities, as I was saying earlier. Thanks to user profile standards like OpenID and expansion of APIs, community providers and third-party aggregation and integration tool vendors are going to allow applications and users to flow between what were heretofore closed communities.

For example, you already have vendors moving in that direction with Yahoo's YOS, which now allows the My Yahoo start page to host third-party applications from nemesis Google.

The fifth and final thing for me -- and this might be more of a wish than a prediction; I'm an eternal optimist I guess -- I'm looking for virtual worlds to gain a foothold in the enterprise.

We've seen folks like [Cisco Chairman and CEO] John Chambers use Second Life to do a dog-and-pony show. Those are great marketing tools, but they're nothing compared to the efficiencies and benefits you can gain from using the software for other things. Dana, you alluded earlier to being able to leverage that mechanism for communication with CRM. I think we're going to see that change how virtual networks can be utilized inside the enterprise.

It's not just for marketing and sales, but also to support B2B and B2C communities, where effective communication between your supply channel members is really paramount. To date, nobody has tackled that.

So, we'll see virtual worlds actually make an impact in terms of allowing these global, loosely coupled entities communicate more effectively in 2009. That's it for me.

Gardner: Thanks. Joe McKendrick, how do you see things shaking out?

McKendrick: Thanks, Dana. You guys are a hard act to follow. My first prediction -- are you ready for this -- the government, the U.S. Treasury, is going to swoop in with the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds and swoop up all the troubled IT assets across the country -- those IBM mainframes, older mainframes, DEC units, Windows NT.

Then, the Fed is going to come in with zero percent liquidity to help finance it, and that's going to raise all boats.

Gardner: Joe, are you defining a new sector called "Toxic IT?"

McKendrick: Toxic IT, there you go.

Gardner: Joe, April 1 is not for several months.

McKendrick: Okay, just kidding. My other prediction: President Obama is going to make Tony Baer the National CTO/CIO, because he wants to "just fix it," and that's a good philosophy.

It's the economy

Okay, all seriousness aside now. The top issue, of course, is the economy. It's going to dominate our thinking through 2009. But, recession planning is so 2008, because SOA, which I focus on as well as IT, is a long-term process. You need to look three years down the road.

The economy is going to turn around. I see it turning around at some point in 2009. That's what economists are saying, and companies have to prepare for a growth mode and the ability to grow within a new environment.

Let's face it. IT has already been tight. IT has been tight since the dot-bomb era of 2001-2002. As some of us have already been saying, there probably is not going to be a huge diminishment in IT departments, because of the fact that the budgets have been lean, things have already been tight, companies already know, or have been running very efficiently, and IT departments have been overworked as it is.

An interesting sidelight is the whole Enterprise 2.0. JP, you and I have discussed this a little bit. The recession and downturn isn't going to be like it's been in the past. People are more empowered with social networking tools, as employees and as people looking for jobs. They're looking to start new businesses

We have a lot of tools available to us now that we didn't have back in 2000, or we didn't have back in 1991 or 1982, or any of those previous eras. People don't have to be victims of an economic downturn, as they have been in the past. We have the capability to network across the globe. We have the capability to start new businesses.

I've talked on this webcast before about a company that started a business with an $80 investment in IT infrastructure, thanks to cloud computing. I just heard about another company that spent about $200 for its first two months of IT.

Gardner: The question is, Joe, are they getting their money's worth?

McKendrick: I think they are. They don't have to invest in servers. They don't have to go out and buy servers. They don't have to go out and buy disk arrays, and worry about the maintenance, hiring people, and know how to maintain those things. There are a lot of opportunities for companies, and we are going to see that. We are going to see folks -- maybe IT people, or people who work for vendors and have been laid off -- have the ability to start their own business at a very low cost of entry.

On the flip side of that, the whole social-networking and cloud-computing phenomena, companies have these tools as well to employ low-cost methods to reach their markets and to interact with their customers. We're going to see a lot more of that as well.

A marketing campaign doesn't have to cost $200,000 to reach your customers. You can use the social network, the Web 2.0 tools, to interact and collaborate and find out what's going on in your markets at a very relatively low cost.

Gardner: From your mouth to God's ears. All right. Dave Linthicum, we have the entire future before us. What should we expect?

Linthicum: You guys took a lot of my better ideas, but I'll just expand on some of them.

The first thing I'd like to do is throw my firm out there for a bailout from the government. I think a billion dollars. I'm cash-flow positive, but I think I can do a lot with the money, including throwing one hell of a New Year's Eve party. So, hopefully the money will start coming in.

Cloud comes into its own

Number one is that the interest in cloud computing, which I have been focusing on in my career, at least for the last eight years, is finally going to come into its own, like everybody has been saying here. That's rather obvious at this point.

As far as what I can add to what's been said so far, what we're going to see in 2009 is a lot of startups, specifically some cloud-computing startups. You're going to see even more around what I call "cloud mediation." That is guys like RightScale, and a few other folks in the space that sit between you and the major cloud providers. They basically mediate issues around data semantics, performance management, load balancing, and those sorts of things.

One thing that's a big hole in the cloud computing movement so far is that most of the solutions out there, even the database solutions, are proprietary. They use different APIs, different interfaces, and different sets of standards. It's going to be a play for a lot of companies to get in there and provide more reliable infrastructure in and between these various guys out there.

I'm aware of one startup a week, and they're coming in through the funders, not necessarily through the entrepreneurs, which is unusual.

The links to social networking will be there. They're not going to be quite as pervasive as everybody thinks. Social networking is going to have its place, but once we figure it out, it will be, "Okay, yeah." It's going to have its value, but we're just going to move on as far as this revolution goes. I don't think that's going to happen in 2009.

People are going to use it as a marketing opportunity, just like they used email, Web sites and those sorts of things, and now blogging opportunities, but eventually it's just going to fall into place.

There will be a huge explosion in the rogue cloud movement, as you mentioned, Dana, and also the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) space. The architects and CIOs out there are going to be scrambling around trying to figure out how to place governance around that.

Everybody is going to be building applications, typically using free platforms like Google App Engine. They're going to start launching these things into production, and there is going to be no rhyme or reason around how they fit into the existing infrastructure. That's happening now and it's going to happen more in 2009.

In switching gears to SOA, there's going to be a larger focus on inter-domain SOA technology. The focus will still be on the short-term tactical and the ability to provide quick value in the SOA space to justify it, so you can get additional funding.

As we start building these things, people are going to look at the departments that are implementing their SOA projects and try to figure out how to bind these things at an enterprise level. I call this the micro domain versus the macro domain.

Technology doesn't scale typically to that point, as people are finding, and it's going to take a different set of technologies and a different set of architectural skill sets to solve that problem.

On the downside, the jig will be up for poor SOA technology out there. Guys who haven't been able to get acquired or haven't been able to hit that inflection point and are still stumbling along -- typically making $2-$5 million a year and burning about that much in cash -- are going to eventually just going to have the plug pulled. And, 2009 is going to be when it's going to happen. They're just going to run out of steam.

We have a few of them right now. Ultimately, they're going to have lots of cuts, start hemorrhaging cash, and they're just going to go out. Some of them may be bought on the cheap, but the majority of them are just going to shut their doors.

Decline of the SOA buzzword

Finally, the SOA buzzword out there is going to diminish in relevancy. I'm talking about the buzzword, not necessarily the notion of SOA. SOA predates when the buzzword was created, and it's going to postdate when the word "SOA" was created. It's going to morph into different things, and the cloud computing movement is going to get into it and define it in different directions.

Enterprise architecture had a chance to get in there and figure out how SOA relates back into their world. They're been fairly successful in some aspects of it, but they have been too slow in moving. The whole SOA movement is going to be more defined by the cloud. That's good for me and probably for everybody on this call.

Gardner: You predicted a couple of years ago, Dave, that SOA would get subsumed into enterprise architecture. I assume that's what you are talking about?

Linthicum: Yeah, that's what I am talking about. Most SOA is going to get practiced in '09 and '10, at least the new stuff, in the cloud-computing movement, even though it’s still SOA. Basically, It's going to encompass cloud resources. Enterprise architecture will ultimately morph with SOA, and they'll become fundamentally the same concept.

SOA, which has always been an architectural pattern under the domain of enterprise architecture, will be subsumed by enterprise architecture and will be an architectural pattern under enterprise architecture. But, we're not going to be talking as much about SOA in '09.

Gardner: Just one quick follow-up. In terms of startups, you don't seem to think that there is going to be much funding left, no IPOs to speak of. What's the business model for these startups that you're seeing, the ones that can take advantage of PaaS with low upfront costs? How do they get funded? Do they need funding? And, what's their end strategy as a business?

Linthicum: They do need funding, but they don't need as much as funding as a company a couple of years ago, just because of everything you can get on demand. The strategy for the business is basically to glom onto the cloud-computing movement.

Some of the larger enterprises out there, some of my clients who are moving into the cloud-computing space by leaps and bounds, are realizing there are huge holes in the area, such as monitoring, event management, security, data mediation, all these sorts of things that aren't built into the larger cloud providers out there.

They have an immediate demand right now, a pent-up demand that's being created by the desire to lower cost, and driving a lot of these enterprises out into cloud computing. They're seeing these holes, and they are looking for solutions to make these happen. Both the entrepreneurs and the funders have realized that these things exist, and they are scrambling around trying to get them up and running.

As far as funding goes, it doesn't take that much to get a company, the assets, and the infrastructure up and running. Most of these solutions you will find will be leveraging on-demand platforms themselves. So, they'll be coming out of the cloud, providing services to clouds.

Gardner: They might actually find some engineers to hire from all those other startups that went away.

Linthicum: There are a lot of them on the streets right now.

Gardner: All right. Mike Meehan, there must be something we've missed so far.

Meehan: I don't know if there's anything you really missed, but I am going to pretend like you have and try to get some stuff in there.

The first three have to do with the economy, because obviously everybody is dealing with what we expect to be a down economy.

Rise of the 'Yankee Swap'

The first one is going to be a blast from the recent past. If everybody remembers back in 2001, when that recession hit, all of a sudden you could buy wonderful amounts of gear on eBay for next to nothing. I remember talking to one guy who was smiling like a Cheshire Cat, because he had replaced $45,000 worth of Unix with $500 worth of Linux. I think you are going to see a lot of that.

People are going to be shutting down data centers. That's going to cause a glut of servers and storage gear and network gear, and you are going to be able to get it cheap and affordable. That's going to hit the storage and network and server companies.

New sales are going to be tough to come by, because you're going to be able to get previously owned gear at affordable prices.

Gardner: So, a great disruption to the existing channel then?

Meehan: Exactly. It's really going to hit the channel vendors. CIOs are going to be able to come in and say, "Hey, look, I'm genius. I bought all of this stuff for next to nothing." And, there are going to be other CIOs who come in and say, "Hey, you know what. I was able to get some money by liquidating our assets." That financial pressure is going to affect everybody in the hardware market.

Gardner: They use to call it a Yankee Swap. Didn't they?

Meehan: Yeah. I think you are going to see a big international Yankee Swap. So that's going to be out there.

The next one is license wars. The CIOs are coming in, they are going to be asked to cut budget, and there is only so much flesh you can cut out before you have to deal with that maintenance license budget. I think every company in the world is aware of the fact that they pay more in licenses than they want to. They have always theoretically wanted to lower those costs. The pressure now is going to be too great for them to not consider options.

This is going to be great for open source companies, which are going to be able to come in and say, alright, you don't have to pay me a rolling license, here is my support cost, see how much its going to lower your license.

It is going to be bad for Microsoft, because again, to a degree they are becoming commoditized across their portfolio, and that's going to hit them right in the breadbasket.

Gardner: Do you agree with me that in hindsight the fact that Vista didn't live up to its potential is really going to hurt them?

Meehan: Absolutely. There are still companies out there working on Windows 2000, and those companies are going to be looking to switch, that they haven't gone to Vista just makes them a free agent. And this is going to also apply to Office.

Gardner: Whoever that architect was on that Vista project, he's fired, right?

Meehan: I think he's long gone. I think he is running the charitable foundation. They not only missed it, but they reinforced every negative perception of Microsoft when they came out with Vista: The inability to meet a product deadline; the security flaws that have been long associated with Microsoft; you need a zillion patches just to get it to work and do basic things.

Everything that they were supposed to have addressed, they failed to address, and then they reinforced that. Now, companies are just sitting there asking, "Why am I paying this much money for bad software?"

Bad year on the sell side

Gardner: So, it will be a really a good year, if you are a negotiator on the buy side, but a terrible year if you're on the sell side.

Meehan: I'd think so. This should hit some enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors too. Anybody who can sell SaaS in the ERP market is going to be doing better. I think you are going to see some erosion on the SAP and Oracle side, as far as enterprise apps go.

"Make my life easier or go away." That basically means, users are going to need productivity and ease-of-use integration. You're going to see those in requests for proposals (RFPs). If they're not stated explicitly, they will be there implicitly.

Referring to SOA projects, for example, don't come in and tell me how much work I'm going to have to do to make all of this come together. Come in and tell me how this is going to make my life easier on day one. The companies that can deliver that will be the ones making the sales. The ones who are telling you that you're going to need to do eight months of work to get this up and running are going to be pushed to the back burner.

I really think that's the lure of the Web-oriented stuff. I take issue with the notion of WOA, because I don't necessarily buy into the architecture portion of it, but I do buy into the notion that it makes your life easier. It makes things easier to do. If you are a developer, it can get your stuff up and running quickly. If you can do that in some sort of organized governable fashion, then go with that.

What you're going to see in a lot of the SOA projects out there in particular is, "All right. Make it easy for me to assemble an application. Make it easy for me to reuse my assets. Make it easy for me to modify my existing applications. Make it easy for me to integrate different applications and even information between different divisions of my company."

Gardner: When you say "make it easy," are you talking about governance?

Meehan: I'm actually just talking about the mechanical process of doing it. You almost want it to be governable on the fly. What you really want is that you don't have to dedicate too much time and resources to undertake these functions. Users aren't going to have that much time or that many resources.

For example, imagine I'm a financial-services company and I've picked up a good loan portfolio from a distressed corporate loan company that had to sell their good loans off, because they were distressed, because they had made bad private loans. I got a good package of corporate loans from them. I need to integrate that quickly into my system, otherwise I am not going to be able to effectively govern that. I'm also not going to be able to effectively create the future programs around those customers, which is what I am looking to do.

So, how quickly can I do things now, as opposed to how thoroughly can I do things? You're going to want to be thorough to an extent, but really it's going to be speed to market and speed to end of project that's going to be a determinant in there.

Telecom shakeup. The U.S. government is going to start treating telecom like its our national road system, and you are going to see some serious investment in that area. That's going to become one of the key points in the economic stimulus package that you're going to see.

I also think you are going to see European telcos begin to encroach, either through acquisition or just through offering services into the U.S. market.

The last one, HP buys Sun. Somebody is going to get bought this year, somebody fairly big. I'm saying HP is buying Sun.

Gardner: They don't need to buy them. They can just replace all their servers in the marketplace.

Meehan: Basically.

Gardner: JP Morgenthal, you're up. The predictions swan song. We must be missing something?

Morgenthal: The funny thing is, I have had you on mute, listening to everybody, and struggling, because while this was going on, I had a visit from my media-services-in-the-cloud provider. He had to come set up my new entertainment in-the-cloud service box. We still need people is the point there. So, I found that very interesting and humorous to be going on when everyone was talking about clouds.

Age of reformation

Gardner: You're talking about the cable guy?

Morgenthal: Exactly, the cable guy. The cable guy was here setting up my TiVo box. I'm going to preface my five by saying that I see we're entering into a modern age of reformation, and there are some really interesting things that are going to start occurring this year, moving forward to 2012. I know. It's my own prophecy, and it's out there, hanging on a limb.

My first prediction is that we're going to see a greater focus on the business process. Not business process management (BPM) per se, although initially people will target that thinking they are doing business process, but eventually they will get it.

I think SOA is dead, and I believe companies have no stomach for IT initiatives that cannot immediately be attributed to a value. They're going to do some small-scale business process re-engineering, they're going to get tremendous value from it, and they are going to get it.

They're going to see that simplification is the way to go. Why are we doing all these complex things -- this hooking to that, hooking to this, hooking to that? I can just go into this one box and get everything done there. I don't care that it's not sexy, okay.

The age of disposable computing is here. We have had disposable electronics, disposable cars, and disposable appliances. The age of disposable computing is here.

Number two: The backlash of social networking. We're just on the precipice. Everyone is getting into it, having a little fun. Certain ones of us are on the leading edge. We're already getting bombarded and tired. We're already fried and overloaded from these social networks. The new people think it's a great new toy.

Give it a couple of years and you are going to see a tremendous backlash. You're going to see a rise of firms that will get paid to get people off the grid -- people who made big mistakes in thinking they were having fun during their early social networking experiment.

Gardner: This is sort of like tattoos, but in the cloud?

Morgenthal: Exactly. Angelina Jolie has got to get Bobby off her butt, and it's going to cost her. We're going to start to see that. We'll see the real backlash come into effect in 2010, but we'll start to see forms of it in this coming year.

Third, the pain from the economy is going to impact the open-systems market. We're seeing the rise of what I call the "anti IT." You hit upon that. You read about people reaching into petty cash, doing things on the cheap, finding other ways to get things done.

The one that's going to be the biggest impact is that people are treating open source like free software. That will destroy the open-source market for sure. It's the death knell. It's the stake in the vampire's heart.

People don't get it. I remind every one of my customers of that, when I talk to them, and they ask about an open-source solution. I've got to put my warning out there. Open source is not free software. You're either contributing dollars to the team that's doing it, or you are contributing your time and effort. It's not free software. You just don't take it and use it. That will be the death knell for open source for sure.

Gardner: Wait a minute, a death knell for open source or death knell for commercial open source as a business model?

Morgenthal: That's a good question. I won't differentiate at this point, because I'm looking at it from the perspective of the event horizon, where people are treating it like free software. There is no free lunch. Somewhere it's going to take hold. There's going to be a lack of support or a lack of desire to continue this thing, if people are abusing the system. It happens all the time. Nothing will drive greater abuse of open source than a bad economy, where there are no dollars.

Gardner: Okay. What else have you got?

Morgenthal: Number four: the millennial workforce is starting. This is going to change everything, and it's starting to already. These people have attitude that I haven't seen in a workforce since marketing people came out in the dot-com era.

They definitely feel like, "I want my toys. I want to be able to use my phone at work. I want to use my computer at work. I want to be able to access my sites at work." I see companies dealing with this issue in a unique way.

Their attitude isn't, "If you want a job, then you have to deal with it in our way." It's, "I'm scared. I don't know where I am going to get my workforce for the 21st Century, and I don't know how to deal with these people." Their first inclination isn't to push back with the old adage and the old way of talking about it, saying, "Hey, it's our way or the highway. We've got the money." It's "Okay, what do you want?"

This is going to really change things. How? It's yet to be seen, but clearly the introduction of a much more mobile force, more telecommuters.

Gardner: Most of us.

Morgenthal: That's a lifestyle choice. Yeah, it's pretty interesting. The millennial workforce is going to change things dramatically.

Shift in patent landscape

The last one is that there's a big change coming in Digital Rights Management (DRM) and patent and copyright. It's being lead by this initiative out of Harvard with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). RIAA may have just started a war for everybody in the industry who has any copyright or any patent infringement suit. The judge in case said, "All you people, you big companies with big lawyers and big money, are taking on these poor little schnooks, and it has got to stop. They are coming in here and they don't even know what their legal rights are."

Gardner: Do you think this what Nathan Myhvold is up to?

Morgenthal: I didn't see his name associated with it. It was actually a Harvard law class, I believe, represented by a Harvard law professor [Charles Nesson], backing it. They're representing it as unconstitutional. So this case could be landmark for DRM, copyright infringement, and patent infringement.

Gardner: So, the basic message is kill all the patent trolls.

Morgenthal: It could be, and it would have a tremendous impact going into the potential for a startup economy. Dave talked about the startup economy, where downtime is a great time to start a new company and a great time to get out there and get your technology done early.

Landmark cases like this will do a lot to further the opportunities of these firms to go out there and build something without worrying, "Am I going to get taken out by Microsoft? Am I going to get taken out by Apple? I can't afford that." It's really interesting what could happen, given the cases like this are now falling on the side of the small guy, and not on the side of big companies.

Gardner: Right. Big companies were the victims of the patent trolls, now they are becoming patent trolls themselves.

Morgenthal: Yeah. They're hiring companies to go eat these things up, and then they are going after the small guy. We had multi-million dollar lawsuits over patent infringement for technologies that people hadn't even built or owned. I really think that the greed of Wall Street is also going to see that backlash, and it's going to lead to more of the same, or at least help those cases significantly.

People who have made big money pillaging the system over the years, in the age of reformation, are the ones that are going to get hung in the next two to three years.

Gardner: We're just about out of time. Let's go quickly down our list for any last synthesis insights.

Jim Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research, thanks for joining. What's your synthesis of what you have heard?

Kobielus: My synthesis is that we are living in a very turbulent and volatile time in the industry. Things are changing on many levels simultaneously, and a lot of it will just be hammered by the recession. Approaches like cloud, social networking, and everything will be driven by the need to cut cost and to survive through fiscal austerity for an indefinite period.

Gardner: Tony Baer, senior analyst, Ovum, what's your takeaway?

Baer: It's hard to know where to start, but if there is one way to look at, it's back to basics. There are a lot of complex issues, and I think it's all going to be resolved locally, which in the long run, is going to present a huge governance challenge.

Gardner: Brad Shimmin, principal analyst, Current Analysis, what's your current analysis?

Shimmin: Currently, I'm thinking that the millennial generation and the down economy are converging like a perfect storm to wipe away what we have known for the last 10 years, and then ushering either perfect terror or a great new economy. I'm not sure which yet.

Gardner: Joe McKendrick, independent analyst and blogger, what's your toxic IT prediction?

McKendrick: We're definitely at a turning point. I agree with what everybody is saying out there about growth mode. Dana, I like your observations about the rogue or the shadow IT. You're going to see a lot more of that. It's been predicted for quite a few years actually that IT is going to be less of an entity onto itself and more of a function that's built into business units.

Business people are getting more involved in IT. Business people are getting more savvy about IT. JP talked about the millennial generation. They're very savvy about what IT and the power of IT can provide. We're going to see less of IT as a distinct area of the business and more part of the business, an enabler of the business. This year is going to accelerate that.

Gardner: Dave Linthicum, founder of Linthicum Group, what are you seeing from what you have heard and what's your net-net?

Linthicum: I think it's going to be one of the most exciting couple of years in IT. Just by sheer cost pressure, we're going to have to get down to simplifying and solving some of these issues, and not just playing around with technology. Things are going to get more simplistic, more effective, and more efficient than they have been over the last 20 years of building layer upon layer of complexity. We just can't afford to do that anymore, and now we are going to have to go fix it.

Gardner: Mike Meehan, senior analyst, Current Analysis, any additional takeaways?

Meehan: There's a lot of panic out there, and in keeping with one of the great holiday traditions, I think the winner is going to be Mr. Potter. The future belongs to warped, frustrated old men.

Gardner: He's buying up all those mortgages for pennies.

Meehan: Exactly.

Gardner: Alright. JP Morgenthal, one last go. What do you see from what you have heard on a high-level takeaway?

Morgenthal: Opportunity and fear -- and it's a matter of which one is stronger. I have no prediction as to which will win out. They're both equally powerful right now, and it's going to be, as Dave said, exciting to watch these two clash and see which one wins.

Gardner: I guess my takeaway is that we don't know how long it's going to take, but we will come out of this period. Survive anyway you can, but be mindful that on the other end it's going to be something quite new, with a lot of opportunities, and it's going to look a lot more like Internet time, and the clicks will mean more than the bricks.

Well, thanks all very much. Have a great holiday season. Please take a few days off and relax with your families.

I also want to thank our Charter Sponsor for the BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcast series, and that is Active Endpoints, maker of the ActiveVOS visual orchestration system.

This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, thanks for listening. Have a good year in 2009, somehow.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Charter Sponsor: Active Endpoints.

Special offer: Download a free, supported 30-day trial of Active Endpoint's ActiveVOS at

Edited transcript of BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcast, Vol. 35,on how analysts see cloud computing, SOA, the economy, and Obama in 2009. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 11, 2008

WSO2 Data Services Provide Catalyst for SOA and Set Stage for New Cloud-Based Data Models

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast on data services, SOA and cloud-based data hosting models.

Listen to the podcast. Sponsor: WSO2.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today, a sponsored podcast discussion about data services, how services-oriented architecture (SOA) is enabling an expansive reach for data, particularly enterprise data, how this will relate to the development of cloud infrastructures and services.

We’ll also examine what technologies and approaches organizations will need to federate and integrate these data sources and services and hosts, but without additional risk. That is to say, to free up data, give it more legs, but without losing control or increasing security risk.

We're also going to look at how open-source software relates to this, and how organizations are bridging the risk reduction and larger availability of data using open-source software.

To help us in this discussion, we are joined by distinguished a panel. First, Paul Fremantle, the chief technology officer at WSO2. Welcome, Paul.

Paul Fremantle: Hi, nice to be here.

Gardner: We are also joined by Brad Svee, the IT manager of development at Concur Technologies, a travel and expense management company in Redmond, Wash. Welcome to the show, Brad.

Brad Svee: Glad to be here.

Gardner: We are also joined by James Governor, a principal analyst and founder at RedMonk. Good to have you back, James.

James Governor: Thank you very much. Hello, everyone.

Gardner: Let's set this up by looking at the problem. I suppose the good news of looking into the past is that data has been secure and controlled. There are lots of relational databases with many, many bells and whistles applied over the years. There has also been a lot of development, middleware, and system's administration work to manage that data, keep it available, but also secure. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it's been limited in some respects by that firewall of personnel, technologies, and standards around it. I want to go to first to Paul Fremantle. Can you tell us a little bit about why the old model is not going to be sustainable in the world of services and mixed hosting environment?

Fremantle: It's a very interesting question. There are two key issues around the old model. The first is the just-in-time nature of data systems that are being bought today. Typically, customers are coming onto Websites and expecting to see the status of the world as it is right now.

They don't want to know what happened yesterday. They don't want to know what happened a week ago. They want to know exactly what happened right now. So it's very important that we move away from batch-oriented systems and file dumping and move to a real, live connected world, which is what people expect out of the Internet.

That live, connected world needs to be managed properly and it's very, very difficult to build that as a single monolithic system. So, it's really essential to move the ownership of that data to the people who really know it, create it, and own it, and that really plays to SOA. This is the model of keeping the data where it belongs and yet making it available to the rest of the world. That's the first point.

The second point is, of course, the danger inherent in getting it wrong. I have two stories, which I think will shed some interesting light on this. One is, I was working with a government organization and they were involved in a situation where every day one of the employees has to FTP a data file from a remote system and back load into their local system.

The employee went ill, and, of course, this didn't happen. They had a whole process to find out who had the password, who could do this and solve this problem. The employees had no one there to back load this data. As I was investigating, it turned out that data in the remote system, from the other organization, was actually coming from within their own organization.

There was another employee uploading the data from the main system to the remote system every day, and they had no clue about this. They didn't realize that this process had built up, where the data from organization A, was being sent to organization B, and then re-downloaded to organization A again, every single day, taking up two employee's time to do that.

Gardner: This is sort of the medieval approach to data transfer.

Fremantle: This is the medieval approach to data transfer. This was not back in 1963 that this is happening. This was actually happening in 2007.

Governor: Medieval or not, the simple fact is that there are vast amounts of exactly that kind of stuff going on out there. Another lovely story told by Martin Fowler talks about a customer -- I believe he was in the U.K. NHS, but I should be a little bit careful there. I should say it was a large organization, and they were freaking out. They said, "We've got to get off Java, because the printer driver is just no good."

He said, "What exactly are you trying to do? Let's have a chat about the situation." "We got to get off Java. We will just try and work it out." He looked at the work was that got involved. Basically, they were getting a document, printing it out, taking it across the room, and then typing it into another system on the other side of the room. He had to tell them, "Well, maybe there is another way of doing it that won't require printer drivers."

Gardner: One of the motivators, it seems, is if nothing dramatic requires you to change your patterns, then you stay with them. It's sort of inertia with people's behavior, and that includes IT. What we're seeing now is an impetus, or an acceleration and automation in services, because they have to, because there are outside organizations involved. A business process is not strictly internal, from one side of the room to the other, but could be across the globe and span many different companies. Does that sound correct, Paul?

Fremantle: Absolutely. I just want to give you a second example, which has been very well published in the U.K. where I live, but maybe it hasn't been so well known outside of U.K. The revenue and the customs in the U.K. had a significant problem recently, where they sent a CD containing 20 million records, including the birth dates, names, national insurance numbers, and bank account details of the 20 million people to another government department.

And, they lost it. They sent it again, and they lost it again. It would not be too far to say this had significant ramifications on the government and their ability to stay in government. The payoff of this was, they had policemen out searching rubbish dumps. They had to send a personal letter to each of the 20 million people. Banks had to update their security procedures.

The overall cost of this mistake, I imagine, must be in the millions of pounds. Now, the interesting question is, firstly, they didn't encrypt that data properly, but even if they had, there is a huge difference between encrypting an online system and encrypting a CD. If a hacker gets hold of the CD, he can spend as long as it takes to decrypt that system. If it takes him two years of computing power to do that, he can sit there for two years and break it.

If you have an encrypted online system and someone keeps trying to break it, the administrator sees log messages, knows that something is happening, and can deal with that. So it's not just the lack of encryption and the bulk dumping of data from one department to other, that's the problem. The model of sticking it on a CD hugely increases the dangers.

Governor: Well, people should be imprisoned for that, or at least lose the right to trade. Obviously, being government organizations, it's difficult to make that stick, but the U.K. government loves the use of phrase "fit for purpose." Quite frankly, there has been evidence that they are not fit for purpose.

Interestingly enough, one of the things about the importance of data and managing it more effectively, is thinking about data in a more rigorous way. I was going to talk on this call about "leaky abstractions." One of the problems with SOA is the notion that, "Oh, we can we can just take the system as it is and make it available as a service."

Actually, you do want to do some thinking and modeling about your data, your data structures, and how it can be accessible, and so on, because of this notion of leaky abstractions. You can push something in one place and something else is going to pop out in another by just taking a service as it is and making it online. You may not be doing the work required to use it more effectively.

I think that's the kind of thing that Paul is talking about there. What better example of the leaky abstraction is there than somebody sending a disk and not tracking where it goes? Again, the fact that there wasn't any cryptography used is really shocking, but frankly, this is business as usual.

Fremantle: In fact just to completely confirm what you are saying there, the government department that wanted this data did not want the bank account details, the national insurance numbers, or the ages. They didn't want all that data. What actually happened was the revenue and customs team were not sufficiently IT aware to be able to export just the data that was wanted, so they dumped everything onto the disk.

I think that exactly confirms what you are talking about the leaky abstraction. They just pushed out everything, because that was the simplest possible thing to do, when it wasn't exactly what's required, which is what should have been done.

Gardner: So, it does seem clear that the status quo is not sustainable. That there is inherent risk in the current system and that simply retrofitting existing data in turning it on as a service is not sufficient. Either you need to rationalize, think about the data, and generate the ability to slice it and dice it a little better, so that in the case of this disk of vast amounts of information, there was only a small portion of that that was actually required.

Let's look at this also through the lens of, "If we need to change, how do we best do best do that?" Let's look at an example of how someone who needs to view data in a different sense, in a more modern sense, how they are adjusting? Let's go to Brad at Concur. Your organization is involved with helping to improve the efficiency and productivity of travel and management inside of organizations.

Your data is going to come from a variety of areas that probably could be sensitive data in many organizations. Certainly, people are not happy about having their travel information easily available around the organization or certainly outside of it. And, of course there are government and tax implications, compliance, and implications as well. Can you give us a little bit of sense of what your data problem set is and if it's different from what we have heard on the "medieval" front? What sort of approaches you would like to take and have been taking?

Svee: First, I would like to clarify the distinct separation between our research and development team, which actually works on our product that we sell the clients, and my team, which works internally with our internal data.

I would like to draw a distinct clarification between those two. I am only able to speak to the internal data, but what we have found is exactly that that. Our data is trapped in these silos, where each department owns the data, and there is a manual paper process to request a report.

Requesting a customer report takes a long time, and what we have been able to do is try to expose that data through Web services using mashup type UI technology and data services to keep the data in the place that it belongs, without having a flat file flying between FTP servers, as you talked about, and start to show people data that they haven't seen before in an instant, consumable way.

Gardner: So, not even taking that further step of how this data might be used in an extended enterprise environment or across or departmental organization boundaries, just inside your organization, as you are trying to modernize and free up the data, you are looking at this through the lens of availability, real time, lower cost and clip, print, and touch from IT personnel. What sort of technologies and approaches have you been taking in order to try to achieve that?

Svee: For the last year or so, we have been pushing an SOA initiative and we have been evaluating the WSO2 product line, since, maybe November. We have been trying to free up our data, as well as rethink the way all our current systems are integrated. We are growing fairly rapidly and as we expand globally it is becoming more and more difficult to expose that data to the teams across the globe. So we have to jump in and rethink the complete architecture of our internal systems.

Gardner: What is it about the architecture that has a bearing on these flexibility and agility you are looking for, but that also protects your sense of reduced risk, security privacy access control?

Svee: Most of the data that we are dealing with is fairly sensitive, and therefore almost all of it has a need for at least per-user access basis, as well as, when we are transporting data, we will have to make sure that it's encrypted or at least digitally signed.

Gardner: Now, it seems to me that this data will need to be available through a browser-based portal or application to the end users, but that the data is also going to play a role with back office system, ledger, and different accounting activities, as this travel and expense content needs to be rectified across the company's books.

Svee: The browser becomes the ubiquitous consumption point for this data, and we are able to mash up the data, providing a view into several different systems. Before, that was not possible, and the additional piece of moving the file between financial systems, for example, we are able to not have to pull files, but actually use Web services to send only the data that has changed, as opposed to a complete dump of the data, which really decreases our network bandwidth usage.

Governor: There's even potentially a green argument in there. I mean, all of this batch is just kind of crazy and unnecessary. We see a lot of it. There is so much data duplicated everywhere. It seems like we, as an industry, are very good at just replicating and getting ridiculous redundancy, and not so good at synchronizing and really thinking about what data does need to be transported and working with that accordingly.

That sort of makes a lot of sense to me. It's very good to hear you are taking that approach. I think sometimes we miss-call things SOA, when in fact what you are doing is kind of "suck and play." You take this thing, suck old things out, and then work on the new thing, as opposed to actually thinking about the data structures you need to enable the data to be useful and fit you.

Gardner: Let's go to Paul. Now, here is an instance where the organization has, I think, its feet in both camps. In the old style, there is accounting, the ledgers, and data extension across application sets from a common repository, and how to batch that in such a way that the data is all on the same page, so to speak, across these applications in a time frame.

We also need to take this out through Web applications to individuals and also across applications that are Web services enabled. So, it sounds like what we have here is a situation where the data needs to do many different tricks, not just a couple of old basic tricks.

What is it that WSO2 has done recognizing this kind of need in the market and is able to satisfy this need?

Fremantle: What we have built is what we call WSO2 Data Services, which is a component of our application server. The WSO2 Data Services component allows you to take any data source that is accessible through JDBC, MySQL databases, Oracle databases, or DB2, but, in addition, we also have support for Excel, CSV files, and various other formats and very simply expose it as XML

Now this isn't just exposed to, for example, Web Services. In fact, it can also be exposed by REST interfaces. It can be exposed through XML over HTTP, can even be exposed as JSON. JavaScript Object Notation makes it very easy to build Ajax interfaces. It can also support it over JMS, and messaging system.

So the fundamental idea here is that the database can be exposed through a simple mapping file into multiple formats and multiple different protocols, without having to write new code or without having to build new systems to do that. What we're really replacing there is, for example, where you might take your database and build an object relational map and then you use multiple different programming toolkits -- one Web services toolkit, one REST toolkit, one JMS toolkit -- to then expose those objects.

We take all that pain away, and say, "All you have to do is a single definition of what your data looks like in a very simple way, and then we can expose that to the rest of the world through multiple formats."

Gardner: When that data changes on the core database, those changes are then reflected across all of these different avenues, channels, and approaches it's sharing. Is that correct?

Fremantle: Absolutely, because it's being accessed on demand and then exposing them as needed through whichever format they ask for. So, it's not storing those data formats in it's own system,

Governor: One of the things that I really like about this story is that we went through a period where there was a view that everything needed to be done with the WS stack, and the only way to do SOA, the only way to data integration, was to use these large-scale Web standards. But they're not critical in all cases, and it really depends on your requirements for the security and so on. Do you really need SOAP and some of the heavier weight protocols and technology?

I think that the approaches that say, "Let's understand is this behind the firewall? What are the levels of protection that are required?" "Can we do this in a simpler fashion?" are very valuable. The point about JSON, for UI related stuff, certainly REST kind of interfaces, but at the end of the day it's a question of, do you have developers that are available out there in your shop or to hire that are going to be able to do the work that's required and some good examples that came out of the Web world?

If you look at eBay, they had a SOAP API, but nobody used it. A great number, or 80 percent plus, of the calls were using RESTful styles. Understanding the nature of your problem and having more flexibility is very, very important.

Gardner: One of the things that I really like about this is that, almost like Metcalfe's Law. The more participants there are on the network, the more valuable it is. The more people and systems and approaches to distributing data, the more valuable the data becomes. What's been nice is that we've elevated this distribution value with data, at the same time that open source and community-based development have become much more prominent.

That means that the ways in which the data is shared and transferred is not just going to be dependent upon a commercial vendor's decision about which standards to support, but we can open this up to a community where even very esoteric users can get a community involvement to write and create the means for sharing and transferring.

The data can take on many more different integration points, and standards can evolve in new and different ways. Let's discuss a little bit, first with Paul, about the role of open source, community, and opening up the value of data.

Fremantle: I am just a fanatic about open source and community. I think that open source is absolutely vital to making this work, because fundamentally what we're talking about is breaking down the barriers between different systems. As you say, every time you're pushing the proprietary software solution that isn't based on open standards, doesn't have open APIs, and doesn't have the ability to improve it and contribute back, you're putting in another barrier.

Everyone has woken up to this idea of collaboration through Web 2.0 websites, whether through Flickr or FaceParty or whatever. What the rest of the world is waking up to is what open-source developers have been discovering over the last five to ten years. Open source is Web 2.0 for developers. It's how do you collaborate, how do I put my input, my piece of the pie? It's user-generated content for developers, and that power is unbelievable. I think we're going to see that grow even more over the next few years.

Governor: I fundamentally agree with it. Open source was an application of a pattern. Open source was the first real use case for this need for a distributed way of working, and we're certainly seeing that broadened out. People are getting a much, much better understanding of some of the values and virtues of open approaches of exposing data to new sources.

Very often, you will not get the insight, but someone else will, and that sort of openness and transparency, and that's one of the key challenges -- actually just getting organizations to understand some of the value of opening up their data.

I think that is one thing to have to tools to see that. Another is that we all now are beginning to see organizations kind of get it. Certainly, "How do we syndicate our information?" is a really key question. We are seeing media companies ask themselves exactly that. "Do we have an API? How do we build an API? Where do we get an API, so that people can syndicate the information that we have?”

I suppose I'm just double-clicking on what Paul said -- that passion is something that is becoming more and much better understood. Reuters is realizing it has to have an API. The Guardian, which is a British newspaper -- and those Americans certainly of the leftward persuasion are very familiar with it -- now has a team that is also presenting at Web conferences and talking about the API. We've got to think about how to make data more available, and open source will just be the first community to really understand this

Gardner: I'd like to bounce this off of Brad at Concur. Do you feel a little bit less anxious, or more at ease, knowing that whatever data needs that you have for the future, you don't have to wait for a vendor to come up with the solution? You might be able to go and explore what's available in a community, or if it's not available, perhaps write it yourself or have it written and contribute it back to the community. It seems to me that this would be something that would make you sleep better at night -- that an open-source and community-based approach to data services deliverability gives you more options.

Svee: I personally love open source. I think that it is the movement that's going to fix software and all these proprietary systems. I think that my small team, four developers and myself, would not be able to produce the kind of quality products internally that we're essentially asked to do, without being able to stand on the shoulders of a lot of these geniuses out there who are writing amazing code.

Gardner: Do you agree that there is this sense that you can almost future-proof yourself by recognizing, as you embrace open source, that you're not going to get locked in, that you're going to have flexibility and opportunity in the future

Svee: Exactly. I find that there are a few products that we have that we've been locked into for quite some time. It's very difficult to try to move forward and evaluate anything new, when we're locked into something that's proprietary and maybe not even supported anymore. With the open-source community out there, we're finding that the answers we get on forums and from mailing lists are every year getting faster and better. More people are collaborating, and we're trying to contribute as much as we can as well.

Gardner: And, of course, over the past several years, we've seen a tremendous uptake in the use of open-source databases and sources from MySQL, Ingres, Postgres, and there are others. Let's bounce this back now to the WSO2 product set. What is it about, when you are developing your products, Paul, that open source becomes an enabler, as well as, in a sense, a channel into the market?

Fremantle: What was interesting about us developing this data services solution was the fact of what we built on top. The data service's component that we built actually took us very little time to get to its first incarnation, and obviously we are constantly improving it and adding new capabilities.

We were working on that and it didn't take time, but the very first prototype of this was just a piece of work by one of our team who went out and did this. What enabled that really was the whole framework on which it was built, the access to framework, the app server that we built, and that framework built on the work of literally hundreds of people around the world worked on it.

For example, if we talk about the JMS support, that was a contribution by a developer to that project. The JSON support was a contribution by another developer and relied on the JSON library written by someone else. The fact that we can choose the level of encryption and security from HTTPS all the way up to full digital signatures relies on the works of the Apache XML security guys who have written XML security libraries. That's an incredible, complex piece of work and it's really the pulling together of all these different components to provide a simple useful facility.

I think it's so amazing, because you really stand on the shoulders of giants. That's the only way you can put it. What I like about this is to hear Brad say that he is doing the same, we are doing the same, and all around there is a value change of people doing small contributions that, when put together, add up to something fantastic. That's just an amazing story.

Gardner: Given that there are many approaches that Brad, as a user organization, is undertaking, and they dovetail somewhat with what you are doing as a supplier, we also have other suppliers that are embracing open source increasingly and building out product sets that have originated from technology that was contributed or project format or license. How do these pieces come together, if we have a number of different open-source infrastructure projects and the products? I'm thinking about perhaps an ESB, and your data solution, and some integration middleware. What's the whole that's greater than the sum of the parts?

Governor: I certainly have some pretty strong opinions here. I think we can learn a lot from the ecosystems as well. One of the absolutely key skills in open source, as a business, is packaging. Packaging is very, very important to open source, and pulling things together and then offering support and service is a very powerful model.

It's really nothing new. If we look at personal computers, you go out and you can buy yourself chips from AMD or Intel, you can buy an OEM version of Windows or choose to do with Linux, you can buy RAM from another company, you can buy storage disks from another company, and kind of glom it all together.

But, as that industry has shown us, it really makes a lot more sense to buy it from a specialist packager. That might be Dell, HP, or others. I think that open-source software has really got some similar dynamics. So, if you want an Eclipse IDE, you are likely to be buying it from an IBM or a Genuitec or CodeGear, and a couple of those are our clients. I should disclose that.

In this space we've got the same dynamics. If you are, for example, a Web company, and you don't want to be paying these third parties to do that packaging for you, fine. But, for the great mass of enterprises, it really doesn't make that much sense to be spending all your time there with glue guns, worrying about how pieces fit together, even in Eclipse, where it is a very pluggable architecture.

It makes a great deal of sense to outsource that to a third party, because otherwise it's really a recipe for more confusion, I would argue. So yes, you can do it yourself, but that doesn't necessarily mean, you should. The PC example, yes, for a hobbyist or someone who wants to learn about the thing, absolutely, build your own, roll your own. But, for getting on with things in business, it does make sense to work with the packager that's going to offer you full service and support.

Fremantle: I've got to jump in here and say that's exactly our model. Though we don't just offer the data services, we offer, an ESB, a mashup server, and SOA registry, and we make sure all those things work together. The reality is that there are a lot of programmers out there who are hobbyists, so there are a lot of people who do like to take individual components and pieces and put them together, and we support both of those equally, but I think your analogy of the PC market and that plug and play model is absolutely like open source and specifically open-source SOA. We all focus very much on interoperability will make sure that our products work together.

Open source drives this market of components, and it's exactly the same thing that happened in the PC market. As soon as there was an open buy off that wasn't owned by a single company, the world opened up to people being able to make those components, work in peace and harmony, and compete on a level playing field. That's exactly where the open-source market is today.

Gardner: So how about that, Brad? Do you really like the idea that you can have a package approach, but you can also shake and bake it your own way?

Svee: That's exactly the sweet part in my opinion. I can shake and bake, I can code up a bunch of stuff, I can prototype stuff rapidly, and then my boss can sleep well at night, when he knows that he can also buy some support, in case whatever I cook up doesn't quite come out of the oven. I see there's a kind of new model in open source that I think is going to be successful because of that.

Gardner: Okay, now we have seen some very good success with this model: have it your way, if you will, on the infrastructure level. We are moving up into data services now. It seems to me that this also sets us up to move an abstraction higher into the realm of data portability. Just as we are seeing the need in social networks, where the end user wants to be able to take their data from one supplier of a social networking function to another, I think we are going to start to see more of that in business ecologies as well.

A business will not want to be locked into a technology, but it also doesn't want to be locked into a relationship with another supplier, another business. They want to be able to walk away from that when the time is right and take their data with it. So, maybe we'll close out our discussion with a little blue-sky discussion about this model taking a step further out into the cloud. Any thoughts about that, Paul?

Fremantle: I think that's a really interesting discussion. I was at a conference with Tim O'Reilly about two years ago and we were having exactly this discussion, which is that openness of services needs to be matched by openness of data. We are definitely seeing that in the Web marketplace through back-end systems like Amazon S3 storage, and we are beginning to see a lot of other people start to jump on this and start to build open accessible databases.

I think that's an absolutely fantastic usage for this kind of data service, which is to say, "It's my data. I don't just want to host things in an open fashion. I don't want to write code in an open fashion. I want open services and open data, so I can get it, move it, protect it myself, and relocate it."

So, I think there's a really interesting idea behind this, which is, once we get to the point where your data is no longer tied to a specific system and no longer has to be co-located with a particular MySQL database, we start to free up that processing. If you look at what Amazon did with the Elastic Cloud Service and their storage system, the storage system came first. The data services were a precursor to having an effective cloud-computing platform. So, it's really a precursor. You have to have data services, before you can start to migrate your processing and scale it up in this fashion.

Gardner: What do you think, James? Is this something that will be in great demand in the market, and there is also a green angle here?

Governor: Yeah, I think undoubtedly it will. Simon Phipps from Sun talks about the freedom to leave. We had a big example recently, Comcast buying Plaxo. They have lost a lot of the users. A lot of Plaxo users just closed up their account there. Interestingly enough, Plaxo had a nice function to do that -- very good for closing the account, not so good for exporting the data. I am not so sure the problems are primarily technical. I think there are a great deal of policy and social problems that we are going to have to deal with.

It's very interesting to me that we call people heroes that are trying to break Facebook terms of service, in some cases with the recent data portability example. We've got some really key challenges about what does data ownership mean. From my perspective, as I said earlier, I think it's very important that we have the mechanisms whereby we have access to data without necessarily allowing replication of it all over the place.

If it is your data, then yes, by all means, you should have permission to take a copy of it. What about if you're on a network and you want to take all the data and all of the surrounding metadata? Really, the discussion becomes about that metadata. Am I allowed to get anything back from Google about my behaviors and other people's behaviors?

It's really a social question, and we, as a society or a number of different societies, have got to think about this, and what we want from our data, what we want from privacy, and what we want we want from transparency. We can gain wonderful things, I mean wonderful advantages, but there is also the flip side, and I think it's very important that we keep that in mind.

So, it's going to be a wild ride. It's exciting, and I think that it is important that we get the tools in place, so that once we get the policies well understood, we can actually begin to do things more effectively. So, again, it's very exciting, but there are a lot of threats and lot of risks that we do need to take account of. Those risks are expanded, as I say, by what I sometime call "information bulimia." This notion that we just keep eating and swallowing more and more information and more data and we need more information, and if you do that, what you end up doing is puking it all up.

Gardner: Let's close here with that real-world perspective, Brad, aside from the visual image of puking, does this interest you in terms of the idea of third-party neutral cloud-based data and does that have any bearing on your real-world issues?

Svee: Well, I can give you an example what we were able to do with data services. Within a matter of weeks, not even months, we are able to use the data services in the application server from WSO2 to essentially give a complete client picture to the business by reaching into the ERP system, pointing out invoices and products, and then reaching into the CRM system to pull out open issues, as well as, sales manager, probably about 50 data points about each customer from the CRM, and then expose those services through a simple JSON-based UI with a smart type-ahead for the customer name. Quickly, we are able to show a picture of our clients that hadn't previously been available -- and within a matter of weeks actually.

Gardner: That data could have come from any number of different sources if, to James' point, you had the proper permissioning?

Svee: Yeah, and since we are IT and we own the systems, we are able to determine who is who, and we were able to use a Web service, another data service into our HR system, to pull out roles to see whether or not you could access that information.

Gardner: That's highly valuable from a productivity and planning perspective. If you are a business strategist, that's precisely the kind of information you want?

Svee: Exactly, and they were amazed that they've had been able to live their lives without it for so long.

Gardner: Paul, do you think much of this common view business, when it comes to data services?

Fremantle: Actually, we are working on another project with a health-care provider, which is providing a single patient view. So, it's exactly the same kind of scenario with significant security and encryption and data challenges to make sure that you don't provide the wrong information to the wrong person. Obviously, all the same issues need to be solved, and being able to pull together everything that is known about a patient from multiple different system into a single view once again has huge value to the organization.

Gardner: Well, this has to be our swan song on this particular podcast. We are out of time. I want to thank our guests for helping us get into a nice far-reaching discussion about data services, what the problem set has been, what the opportunity is, and how at least one organization, Concur, is making some good use of these technologies. We have been joined by Paul Fremantle, chief technology officer at WSO2. Thank you, Paul.

Fremantle: Thank you, it has been great fun.

Gardner: I also strongly appreciate your input Brad Svee, IT manager of development at the Redmond, Wash.- based Concur. Thank you, Brad.

Svee: Well, thank you.

Gardner: And always, thank you, James Governor from RedMonk for joining. We appreciate your input.

Governor: Thank you much. It has been an interesting discussion.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect Podcast. Thanks and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Sponsor: WSO2.

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast on data services, SOA and cloud-based data hosting models. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.