Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama Declares War on Investors, Entrepreneurs, Businesses, And More

Obama Declares War on Investors, Entrepreneurs, Businesses, And More - Money and Politics Blog -
Essentially, the Obama economic policies represent a major Democratic party relapse into Great Society social spending and taxing. It is a return to the LBJ/Nixon era, and a move away from the Reagan/Clinton period. House Republicans, fortunately, are 90 days sober, as they are putting up a valiant fight to stop the big-government onslaught and move the GOP back to first principles.

Noteworthy up here on Wall Street, a great many Obama supporters — especially hedge-fund types who voted for “change” — are becoming disillusioned with the performances of Obama and Treasury man Geithner.

There is a growing sense of buyer’s remorse.

Is this the dawn of a Socialist America? Yikes!! (For the lack of a better word). That being said, "growing sense of buyer’s remorse"?? What! just after one month? That's a naive attitude, don't you think?

Update: So I went through the entire State of the Union Speech on YouTube (7 parts) to take a first hand look and must say (as I suspected), this is indeed an overreaction. HBRs Umair Haque seems to share the same sentiment and has pointed to his Smart Growth Manifesto while doing so, with some good points.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Downloaded WSO2 WSAS? Want Mediation? Here's How

So you have the brand new Web Services Application Server (WSAS) 3.0 running and now thinking about mediation. Traditionally, the only option has been to download an ESB. The WSO2 ESB for instance. You still have that choice ('choice' being the operative word here). But with the new Carbon platform (on which WSAS 3.0 is based on), you don't have to download a new product once again. Just download the 'Mediation Feature Pack' and add it to your existing WSAS 3.0 installation and you will have mediation in no time.

Here's a quick visual How to. If you need more details, there's an article as well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SOA: Under Construction

CIO - SOA: Under Construction
The ultimate objective of SOA is a supremely agile infrastructure, where IT develops composite applications atop of a layer of abstraction that spans multiple platforms and domains across the enterprise. But nobody can "boil the ocean" and achieve that goal all at once. Practical SOA initiatives begin with a related set of business processes that would clearly benefit from greater flexibility -- where market conditions are in constant flux, for example, or new services must be deployed on the fly for competitive reasons. At some point that top-down approach meets the bottom-up reality of existing software assets and infrastructure.

The link at the beginning is an article from December 2006. An informative read for those thinking of utilising SOA as part of their IT strategy. It talks about tactical issues such as,
  • Building, exposing, and monitoring services
  • Whether to go for an ESB or not and why?
  • Security and Governance
  • Testing and Debugging Services
Then the article explores the approach to be taken when selecting a SOA Platform with the following caveat.
"The choice of development platforms, registries/repositories, management schemes, messaging systems, security technology, and testing tools is dizzying. It's easy to get caught up in tactical decisions, such as whether to buy an ESB and from whom. But the approach you pick should come after you have defined your business processes, core services, and overall architecture."
It concludes by highlighting the value of high level architecture compared to certain tactical decisions. Pioneers such as BT (British Telecom) are quoted throughout the article with examples where applicable.
Britain's telecom giant BT has developed 14 service platforms. "Each platform has a set of services that have operations associated with them -- like a method in object-oriented programming. A service resides in one and only one platform," BT's Glass says. And each platform has an architect assigned to it, who ensures that all services -- whether developed in-house, provided by a partner, or bought from a vendor --
adhere to the architecture. To enforce that compliance, if a BT project doesn't meet the architecture, the development team loses a quarter of its annual bonus.

Is Your SOA Platform Situation Aware?

Does your SOA Platform provide Situational Awareness?

Roy Schulte, vice president of Gartner, observes that the executive dashboard may be among the keys to bridging SOA and Business Process Management. “Business users may not understand SOA, BPM, CEP or XTP [eXtreme Transaction Processing], but they know what they want to see on their dashboard and they may be willing to fund back end architecture and development projects to get more information faster.”

For a SOA Platform to add value at a strategic level, it should possess the ability to give a birds-eye view of what's going on in your business. The fact that a SOA Platform is deemed awesome by your geeks is a good feeling. But will it put the analysis of this quarter’s sales results and inventory levels in front of your eyes?

Here are some resources

Saturday, February 21, 2009

SOA, BPM, CEP: Getting IT Budget in a Tight Economy

SOA, BPM, CEP: Getting IT Budget in a Tight Economy | WebSphere Journal
“Unlike the (days of the) era—where IT was perceived as wasteful—organisztions now view IT as a way to transform their businesses and adopt leaner operating models,” said Gartner analyst Peter Sondergaard. “IT leaders that are called on to reduce 2009 IT spending should do so in a way that will not impede the organization in the future.”

Some really good points for CIOs and Architects in directing the corporate IT strategy "right now".

The Role of a SOA Platform During Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions are tricky business manoeuvres and if not done skilfully, can produce the very opposite of the synergy they try to achieve. But during certain economic climates M&As become a necessity for survival than an option. The role of IT in consolidating systems, especially when pushed by financial and management reporting requirements is crucial. Without the proper analysis or a framework in place for such consolidation, the negative effects on operations will last for years.

Is SOA the Silver Bullet?

No. Because we all know there's no such thing in the real world. But using Service Orientation does allow IT to gain control of an otherwise chaotic situation. It allows the use of a top down approach to identify critical business processes and transform them into services. A proper SOA platform will additionally fscilitate the abstraction of legacy systems into services. This simply means that irrelevant of the fact whether one company has a forward thinking IT strategy around SOA or neither doesn't, there's still hope. The challenges do not end in just abstracting services. Mapping data between two seprate entities in itself presents its own set of problems. As a simple example, one company might use 20 characters to store a customer name while the other 30. Defining how these systems talk to each other is imperative.

A forward thinking SOA platform should present solutions for most of these issues. It should have tools to utilize re-usable services while creating new ones. Tools to abstract services from legacy systems. A tool such as an ESB to facilitate messaging between all of these systems. It should also provide a Repository or a Registry along with tools for SOA Governance, which will bring in the necessary controls and quality assurance procedures to the consolidation effort while ensuring the project is been driven by business priorities and services are made taking these into consideration. Proper governance will also prevent ending up with two sets of business processes and two sets of services instead of a single unified architecture.

Who should take ownership?

Most SOA experts would agree that such an effort must be driven by a Governance Team. Since SOA governance undoubtetdly falls under IT governance, the CIO will have to take a stand and formulate direction, while creating the bridge between SOA and Corporate Governance Teams.

Here are some related resources;

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The slow economic demise of Japan

For Japan, a Long, Slow Slide -
"Japan is still the world's second-largest economy, as measured by gross size, although the island nation has been surpassed by China in purchasing power. In coming decades, the economies of China and India will dwarf Japan's, according to many projections. By 2050, Japan's economy will be about the size of Indonesia's or Brazil's, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers."

An interesting comment I saw while reading the article when it debuted on social media sites is that Japan has relied heavily on the advice of one Ben Bernanke, whose address at a meeting of the Japan Society of Monetary Economics was cited as a reference. Obviously his advice has not yielded results. Incidentally, the same plays an influential role in the current US economy as a member of the Financial Stability Oversight Board.. Although this may sound as speculation, it does make one wonder about the future of their Troubled Assets Relief Program, the success or lack thereof will play a key role in how long the current global downturn will last.

WSO2 Carbon :: Hummer, Prius or Smartcar?

Samisa, WSO2's Director of Engineering, sparked an interesting internal debate with an analogy he used in Give up your SUV, and SUV like Middleware, which compared the new WSO2 Carbon Platform to a Smart Car in contrast to fuel guzzlers from other vendors (read Hummer). What he meant to point was the economies of scale. However, unintentionally he also implied that Carbon has all the other characteristics of Smart Cars that prevents wide adoption.
Needless to say, the car enthusiast in me just wouldn't play along. Apparently neither was Chintana's. So we all agreed that in reality, WSO2 Carbon isn't a Smart Car either. So what is it?

Imagine having the speed and agility of a Bugatti Veyron (SUVs are for Soccer moms, 'nuff said) with the economy of a Smart Car. Unrealistic in terms of Cars, yet very realistic in the world of Software. You can have a solution with significantly lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with high Return on Investment (ROI), especially when it gives you the freedom of Open Source. So that's the conclusion we finally arrived at. WSO2 Carbon is just that!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In tough times, CIOs have become a strategic asset!

Chief information officers get sexy - Feb. 12, 2009
There was a time when the geeks who keep a company's tech systems running could get by without knowing the finer details of corporate strategy. You called the chief information officer when you needed a server upgrade, not a strategic plan.

According to Fortune magazine, those days are over. Especially in these difficult times, where budget cuts are rampant with IT no exception. Yet while cutting costs, CIOs have to ensure the smooth technological function of other divisions and help guide the strategic vision of a company. Interesting read.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites by Paul Boag

10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites | How-To | Smashing Magazine
"Paul Boag is the founder of UK Web design agency Headscape, author of the Website Owners Manual and host of award-winning Web design podcast"
The points in summary are ...
  1. You Need A Separate Web Division
  2. Managing Your Website Is A Full-Time Job
  3. Periodic Redesign Is Not Enough
  4. Your Website Cannot Appeal To Everyone
  5. You Are Wasting Money On Social Networking
  6. Your Website Is Not All About You
  7. You’re Not Getting Value From Your Web Team
  8. Design By Committee Brings Death
  9. A CMS Is Not A Silver Bullet
  10. You Have Too Much Content

The Future

I came across this via the Twitter profile of @TS_Elliott, her site and finally through the YouTube stream of @selfbankmobile. The way I came across it is as amazing as the content of the video itself!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

WSO2 Carbon. What's in it for you?

Here's a short and sweet version. "WSO2 Carbon will be for SOA what Eclipse is for IDEs".

In the Pre Carbon Era
  • I want SOA for my Enterprise
  • I download an application server, deploy some services
  • I find that certain legacy apps do not play nice with these new services. I need some sort of mediation. So, now I download an ESB, RTFM, install, configure and get my services to play together
  • After some time as my SOA really kicks off, I find it necessary to have some kind of governance, which leads me to download yet another piece of software and repeat the cycle of RTFM, installation and configuration
From today onwards, we live in a Post Carbon World. Things will be different from now on ...
  • I want SOA for my Enterprise
  • I download an application server (and this is where the similarity ends)
  • When I neeed and ESB, instead of the vicious cycle before, I download just a few components and plug them into my already functioning application server and voila! I have my ESB
  • Governance? No problem. Get the governance components and plug them in!
The beauty of this is that you create your own middleware solution exactly like you would build your Eclipse workbench, with just the right set of plugins. For the record, both WSO2 Carbon and Eclipse are based on the OSGi architecture, which enables this componetization.

Stay tuned for Mashup and Data Services components as well.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Biz School Chronicles : Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy, How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant
Authors: W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne

blue ocean strategy

"The metaphor of red and blue oceans describes the market universe. Red oceans are all the industries in existence today—the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities or niche, and cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody. Hence, the term red oceans.

Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored."

I'm reading this at the moment (as recommended reading) and finding the ideas presented there intriguing. The book has a few case studies, including Southwest Airlines (a favourite among my lecturers, irrelevant of the subject). But being a techie, I needed something from my own industry to make me feel at home and I feel Apple is a good example. From Mac to the iPhone, a common observation one can make is that they usually arrive late to the party. In other words, by the time they realize there's money to be made form a certain technology, they have seemingly arrived to a bloody, Red Ocean.

In the early part of the book, the authors present a tool called Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create Grid. This helps carve a Blue Ocean by answering four basic questions.
  • Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?
  • Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
  • Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
  • Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
So I took a look at Apple's first generation iPhone, in order to understand how they, either knowingly or unknowingly, have done it

Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?

  • No removable battery
By opting to do so, they surely must have saved a lot during manufacturing, but you don't hear people complaining about it too much either. Why? When I think about it, I have never taken my phone's battery out to get it charged, ever. I'm not talking about the iPhone, I don't own one, I mean the regular phones and smart phones. With today's battery technology, having two batteries and using one while the other is at home charging doesn't make sense. Having a removable battery then, doesn't add value to a phone as far as today's customers are concerned. Yet the phone makers have missed this fundamental change in buyer's value. They are too focused on competing in the Red Ocean benchmarking one another to even perceive the change.

Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
  • The iPhone had a mere 2 megapixel camera in a world where more than 5 megapixel cameras in phones is common and it didn't have flash or zoom (oh.. the humanity!)
But when I thought about it, I realized that cameras in phones never really impressed me either. Every time I see someone taking a picture using their mobile phone, the first thing that comes to my mind is "That's going to be a crappy pic. Good luck!" (or something similar). In fact my old phone had its camera broken and I didn't even miss it. But the industry seems to take a 5+ megapixel camera as a standard . Don't just take my word for it, read the specs of some of the latest phones. Another classic example of how companies compete in a Red Ocean. They invest so much on features that could have been easily downplayed.

Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard? and Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?

Do I even have to write anything here? Here we go ...
  • The sleek design ready for the catwalk. I mean, this is the Gisele Bundchen... of phones!
  • Mac OSX user experience, in a phone with all the goodies like Safari, iChat, iPhoto etc., etc.
  • The Virtual Keyboard
  • Is it a phone? is it an iPod? OMG!! OMG!!
  • Google Maps and Widgets
  • WiFi
Need I say more?

Although I took the iPhone as an example. One can see the same strategy in most of Apple's products, which forces me to think that their secret motto must be "Take toys of Geeks and make them appeal to wannabe Fashionistas". Take a look at their laptops. It's the same strategy. If you see two strangers in a lobby or a coffeeshop with their laptops, one with a Dell and another with an Apple MacBook, what would be your first impression of the two?

Think about it, while I go finish reading my book :)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

World, meet WSO2 Carbon!

If you love agility and the freedom to innovate but are tired of table d'hôte offerings by most middleware vendors today that won't give you the versatility to choose what fits your palate, take a look at WSO2 Carbon, an à la carte middleware offering allowing you to assemble your SOA using what you want, when you want, exactly the way you want.

We just released,

  1. WSO2 Web Services Application Server (WSAS)

  2. WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

  3. WSO2 Registry

  4. WSO2 Business Process Server (BPS)

based on the Carbon Platform.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Facebook joins OpenID Foundation Board

OpenID » Blog Archive » Facebook joins OpenID Foundation Board with a commitment to better user experience
"Given the popularity and positive user experience of Facebook Connect, we look forward to Facebook working within the community to improve OpenID’s usability and reach. As a first step, Facebook will be hosting a design summit next week at their campus in Palo Alto which follows a similar summit on user experience hosted at Yahoo! last year. The summit will convene some of the top designers from Facebook, the DiSo Project, Google, JanRain, MySpace, Six Apart and Yahoo!, focusing on how existing OpenID implementations could support an experience similar to Facebook Connect."
If they embrace Gadgets and OpenSocial as well, it would be a huge step towards platform independent, write once run anywhere social applications. Let's hope they'll see the light.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Lanka going into orbit

Lanka going into orbit
Sri Lanka is to launch its first satellite, a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) type, this year, an official said yesterday. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to name the satellite after space prophet Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Director General Priyantha Kariyapperuma said A second satellite, a geostationary type, would follow the Arthur C. Clarke LEO.