Thursday, 6 December 2012

54% of blog posts contain pure facts

A post by Dion Hinchcliffe on "social business maturity" made me laugh and cry at the same time. It's one of those misleading semi-analytical semi-research posts that will be joyfully accepted by most people as solid truth.
However, it ain't. If it's anything solid, it's solid suggestimation. Why?

The post smacks the reader in the face with impressive percentages that most, if not all, are in the 50's, 70's or even 80's, seemingly showing that vast majorities of companies are "socially mature".
I'm not even going to dig around in the studies / research cited in every statement (truly chapeau for Dion for not only citing them, but also providing a link by the way - even if I got a 404 on 1 out of 9), I'm just going to show how the attempt to state

Social media is now being used in en masse for marketing, sales, operations, customer care, supply chain, and amongst our workforces

is doomed to fail as the post combines two opposites: on the one hand perfect percentages are presented, on the other hand those are related to vague absolute truths, such as "using social technology for marketing and related functions" and "use social media to engage with customers". Any percentage of nothing is nothing

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

On the insignificance of (Re)tweets to a post

In a discussion about blindly ReTweeting yesterday, I remembered that I once did a short analysis on auto-tweets.
An auto-tweet is a schedule you set up against an RSS-feed or any other trigger, which tweets the URL with a title, some of the post itself, a fixed word or hashtag, etc. Some "thought-leaders" use it to ditch all attribution and pretend the tweet originated from themselves. Usually, their Twitter bio then also says "I tweet interesting links" - well, now you know how they do it and how original and carefully curated these are...

I wondered about the current state of affairs - and did a deep analysis this time, the results of which are depicted above

Monday, 3 December 2012

Why TwentyFeet is Total Twash

Yet another Twitter analytic tool has made it into the spotlights: Twentyfeet
Like most if not all other tools that try to measure Twitter stats (Klout, Tweetlevel), it horribly fails. Apparently it's too much work or money to actually measure all tweets, and do they take a sample and extrapolate - or rather, sugguestimate - the rest

That, or they really just can't count

Sunday, 25 November 2012

I still have all your comments

Hey, just a short message

I have uninstalled IntenseDebate as it was crap. Didn't work for me on mobile (couldn't sign in), didn't work on xtop depending on browser (10 lines was too much for IE 8, Firefox had cookie problems, etc) and I'm just thinking really hard to revert to native Blogger commenting

Native Blogger commenting ain't sexy, but it works

And I want my commenting system to work. On mobile, laptop, desktop, iPad mini, Mac, who cares - everywhere

So, I'm looking for a way to convert my (and yours!!!) IntenseDebate comments back to Blogger comments. I will succeed, it might take me a day or two, but I've just taken down IntenseDebate immediately as I'm  sick and tired of it not working

So, no worries - bare with me please

And yes, I do wild and crazy things sometimes. You should try that at home too ;-)

The thin line between transparency and vanity

I had an interesting discussion with Joseph Jude on the share buttons on my blog. In short, his opinion was:

which doesn't leave much room for interpretation, fortunately. I agree, and don't agree, as the bandwidth for numbers is so very, very wide: most numbers are meaningless as mere numbers

Monday, 19 November 2012

Read before you share - otherwise it's gossip

A rubbish post by business insider titled "This Survey Is Devastating For Microsoft: 42% Of Windows Users Plan To Switch To Apple" and a very dubious post by the New York Times titled "The Tablet Market Grows Cluttered" drew my attention today - the latter claimed that
About 98 percent of Web traffic from tablets comes from iPads, according to Onswipe, a digital publishing company
The answer to the first riddle lies in the post itself, the other answer is just a few clicks away. The verdict: bogus anal-ysis. Which doesn't matter to the authors, because the shares came in by the hundreds of course. Amazing facts!

5+ garages to service your car? Sure

[Image by Expressive]

After a very lively conversation with Holger Müller I decided on "posting it up" - Twitter is fine for conversations but sometimes the 140-char limit just doesn't cut it.
We discussed Integration, within enterprises. Along the analogy of a garage, we found out that every enterprise has more than a few garages "to serve their car" - meaning integrating their applications

Yes that can be true, but it doesn't need to be - some of the work I do involves "Integration rationalisation", meaning bringing back the number of Integration solutions to -preferably- one

Holger told me what is happening, and has been happening, in his world - and I don't disagree with his facts. I just think that there are far, far better ways of using your time and money. "Free Integration Tools" you get with purchasing an application or ERP module don't always usually mean that they are

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Big Brother? Sits right on your mobile

[The image above has nothing to do with this post, but it seemed to be fitting, given the latest developments. This post is all about trust]

In this age of free(mium), it's common knowledge that you pay with your privacy. Facebook is the best (or should I say worst) example of the dance around your data, yet there are many more tools that you use, which have access to everything that you carry with you: all the data on your phone. Not only can they read that, they can also change it - and even "impersonate" you

Some applications do need this very deep trust level, e.g. virus scanners and applications such as Androidlost. Others absolutely do not do so, like Skype, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Facebook. Interested to see what they can do to the contents of your phone? You'll be in for a surprise, or should I say, shock

Monday, 12 November 2012

Why I only watch blind auditions of #TVOH

It was an intention I had after the first season of The voice Of Holland had ended. After the second season, it was a firm agreement I made with myself. And yet, as it's aired on Friday night, it's become a tradition for me and my women to watch TVOH with a proper fire in the fireplace, drinks, potato chips, and lively discussions

No more. I tell you, no more

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Netherlands exit the rusty labour market

Yesterday, our new government finished negotiations. The two parties that together form a majority, VVD and PvdA, have reached agreements on their mutual policies for the next four years. It's a challenging combination of right-wing (VVD) and left-wing (PvdA).
Even though these definitions vary considerably across the globe, I think I can suffice by saying that VVD generally favours the rich, while PvdA favours the poor

But, all that doesn't matter. The topic for this post is the definitive decision that severance pay will be maximised at 75 thousand euros - period. Where it currently would be double, triple or even more of that

Friday, 26 October 2012

Innovation and inclusion - a matter of space and time

[Image by Salim Virji]
Vijay Vijasankar and Ethan Jewett dragged me into a conversation on innovation and inclusion. Well of course they didn't, I butted in as usual

My answer was:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Android? Car mode? Speakerphone auto-on? Bluetooth volume fail? Micro-USB design-flaw!

[Disclaimer: this information is provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind. Use at your own risk]

Are you -that is, your phone- suffering from the following symptoms?

  • weeks or even months ago, "car mode" started to seemingly randomly get enabled
  • ever since, that seemed to happen more often
  • at some point, when you made or received a call, the speakerphone would sometimes be automatically turned on
  • since a while, when you make or receive a call, the speakerphone is always automatically turned on
  • since then, when connected via Bluetooth to a speakerset, you can change the volume on your phone up or down but that won't have any effect
  • it drives you crazy

Monday, 22 October 2012

A pyramid scheme is bad form, Cloudwork

As some of you might know, or rather, should, Integration is my middle name - you might even call me a one-trick pony and I'd take that as a compliment. So, when I saw that Cloudwork offers unprecedented integration (cough), I signed up immediately! I was even so enthusiastic, I even forgot to use a fake identity - and very much regret that now

Cloudwork didn't have me sign up. No, Cloudwork baited me into giving away my email address, so they could decide themselves when to send me that valuable invite to their beta:

Sunday, 21 October 2012

How and why common sense will beat REST

In my previous post I described how REST would replace SOAP. If you paid close attention you will have noticed that I actually didn't say anything in favour of REST, but everything at the expense of SOAP.
Because it indeed seems like REST will be the new SOAP - which is in contradiction with the idea that today's Enterprises that have any form of Service Oriented Architecture will replace their current implementations by those fit for the future

Because "REST" just doesn't make any sense in that context. Mind you, I'm talking about the REST that the low-level techies hijack; exactly what I described, i.e. JSON with the four HTTP verbs. Not the REST as Roy Fielding intended, i.e. a verb-independent style. Apart from all the heavy caching on every side of any connection, which really enabled the scale he was looking for. Without cache, there would be no Internet. Period.
And in case you want to know what Roy thinks of the current hijacking of REST, just read this and this

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I'm sorry, you're just not incompetent enough to get it

Olivier Blanchard made me do it.
And it is. Definition of advancement? Coming up soon. But this is the driver for most, if not all, of your life: work, life, religion, politics, social media (sic) and last but certainly not least successful Enterprise products.
Come again? Yes

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

TIBCO's Silver Fabric - a golden lining

I attended TIBCO's PaaS workshop, where they showed and demoed Silver Fabric - the product that has come forth from the DataSynapse acquisition in September 2009. Erik Hageman, Mario Invernizzi and Steven van der Kroft lead the session.
The location was the Radisson Blu near Schiphol, a fine location with excellent service and food & drinks. After we had those, the session started at 1 PM

Silver Fabric is a middle layer between the OS and application. It sits right in between, so it can allow for upgrades, scale up or down, and failover and failback - without human intervention (hold your horses please)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

SAP may be betting on the right horses, but how about the jockeys?

Mark Finnern welcomed the new Sap mentors today, 20 experienced people with some ties to SAP. As Matthias Steiner says, everyone can nominate one, selection process is "top secret".
If I'd get to single out one addition that pleases me most, it'd be Fred Verheul. Congratulations, Fred!

A whole conversation unfolded after I asked Jamie Oswald about the little HANA, Cloud and Integration expertise among the newcomers. Summing up all reactions, there was HANA experience among a dozen, and Jamie assured me that

I decided to take a look at the whole group of 110, and see how they could help existing implementations. In plain English: how does their expertise add up to the latter?

Monday, 24 September 2012

What drives IT failure? Ignorance and Greed

It was an interesting question Charles Storm posed the other day: was I saying that solutions are primarily driven by ignorance and greed? I wasn't, but he made me think:

  • Every solution is driven by need, or want, and some lack of knowledge.
  • Every failure is caused by ignorance and greed

Let's see whether I can find good arguments for that, and where the twain meet

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

How and why REST will beat SOAP

In the past weeks and months, the REST versus SOAP debate has flamed yet once again - however, the balance this time definitely is in favour of REST.
So it seems like REST will be the new SOAP - meaning that today's Enterprises that have any form of Service Oriented Architecture will replace their current implementations by those fit for the future

That would mean, to a good extent, replacing XML by JSON, and SOAP RPC by HTTP's CRUD: PUT, GET, POST and DELETE

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Institutionalisation or mob rule - how minorities control the majority

[Image by Mick Stevens, courtesy of the Newyorker]

The topic has been on my agenda for very, very long now. I've touched upon it in my Social Business (R)evolution book, and most other "social posts" underlying that.
I've touched upon it in my "enterprise posts", and in my "religion posts". I haven't written any (or maybe I have some?) "political posts", but I have most certainly done so in my "spiritual posts".
Institutionalisation - it ruins everything. It obliterates common sense, magically forces people to hand over any and all kind of responsibility, and transforms reluctance into acquiesence

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Mussels in vinegar

A recipe for a Social Media experience

A column not for the fainthearted

Recently I commented on a picture, posted on Facebook. The picture showed somebody’s hand, holding a mussel, over dinner. Its caption said: "Seek the ten differences". For those with a dirty mind like mine, this needs no further explanation.

I commented on this photo. Of course I did, that’s me! One of the differences, I stated, was that funny looking hard shell, which was new to me. A short and hilarious conversation followed in the comments on this post. It needs no elaboration that these comments were mostly equivocal of sort, but at the same time, not a single word or expression was of an explicit "adult" nature.

Much to my surprise, within TEN minutes after the initial post, it was completely removed from Facebook. Facebook takes its censorship of citizens pretty seriously, I gather!

Monday, 10 September 2012

GoDaddy... Go... Gone

Tonight the Godaddy servers have been hit by a simple DDOS - a distributed denial of service involving a few dozen clients or servers that fire off hundreds or even thousands of requests a second at their servers. It's a simple attack, and very effective. It's like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, standing in the middle of the classroom and getting all those toddler questions fired off at him. The inevitable result: he breaks down

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Twitter is what you make it

Following up on a challenging post by Luis Suarez, let me jot down my thoughts on what Twitter is, has become, and will be.
The word "dead" is cunningly avoided after all these years that certain things have come to be claimed dead, dying, or extinguishing - and rightfully so. If anything, any new thing is born, and at the very moment of that wonderful occasion, it's dying at the same time. We humans, plants, rocks, stars, galaxies, universes - we all are born, and destined to die. As the black-and-white vision on that is not up for debate, we all must agree that the only thing worth discussing, preferably dialoguing, is the pace at which what happens, and the achievements in between

People can achieve wonders, miracles, magicious accomplishments in a lifetime or even less. So can plants, trees, vulcanoes, stars, galaxies, etcetera. we all are witnesses at best to 99.999% of whatever happens in our life, and only control our own feelings and emotions - at best, at the very, very best

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Resource identification is not a REST invention

An article on programmable web - pointed out to me by Fred Verheul (thanks Fred!) - gave me an adrenaline rush.
It was so full of bollox that I almost started to hyperventilate - which is a pun on the abundant use of the word hypermedia in that same post

Let me just quote one part of the post:

This subtle shift in the source of application control information makes it possible for the same client code to recognize and execute new features as they appear over time without the need for patches or downloads

The post contains more nonsense like this. Let me quote yet another brilliant piece, and be done with quoting:

How pubsub works - and always has, and will

[Image by RIA Novosti]

Brenda Michelson triggered me into a small conversation on pubsub - of course I did a quick search and analysis via my Twitter search tools and learned that it's been mentioned 91 times in the past week, the vast majority of which seem to be treating the word sub as in sandwich (colloquial American) - I guess that answers Brenda's question

Yet, I went to check out the state of (Information Technology) pubsub, an extremely well-proven mechanism in our daily world, aka IRL, where we all subscribe to ye olde snail mail (the post office) to retrieve anything that gets published towards us

Oh, is that not it? Maybe, maybe not - but let me explain why pubsub undeservedly is dead on Twitter

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Independents flood the NL labour market

Brace yourself for 9 years of labour population make up in the Netherlands. It's a long yet short story.
We Dutch have always been great entrepreneurs. Disregarding the consequences of our actions over the last centuries, and the actions themselves, objectively put we have left an enormous footprint in the world for such a small country

In the 1600’s the Dutch East India company was the largest private company in the world with 50,000 employees. We have been entrepreneurs ever since - although one would claim differentl;y given the figures of our labour population. Those have changed over the last decade, as you can see in the figures above

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Google you are so sad, you drive me mad

Google has tried a new trick to lure in people to their destined-to-die Social Network, aka Google+

Update August 3 7:32 GMT+2:
This works on Internet Explorer 8. I haven't been able to reproduce this on other browsers and versions

Why the harsh words? Because I'm appalled by the method they choose. If you're not getting enough attention for your product or service, you should try to make it more attractive (financially, operationally, which ever way) - not invent cunning ways to whip people towards or into it

What has Google tried now? They limit your Google Search results to 20, unless you sign up for Google+.
Let me repeat that: Google limits your Google Search results (to 20), unless you sign up for Google+

Twitter is NOT where the party is at

You couldn't possible have missed the messy story around NBC and Twitter, resulting in suspension of Guy Adams' Twitter account. Guy's latest reaction on that is here, and contains the concise version.

Update July 31st 21:15 GMT+2: Guy Adam's account has been unsuspended:

Oh. My Twitter account appears to have been un-suspended. Did I miss much while I was away?
— Guy Adams (@guyadams) July 31, 2012

I do have to say that "which is widely listed online" is an exaggeration for sure, as it's only to be found on one site

I remember that it was also in a comment to a 2008 post on that same site, but can't possibly find that anymore now the web has been littered with Gary Zenkel's email address. In an action that started 10 hours ago, people have been tweeting and blogging the email address and since then it's been mentioned over a thousand times on Twitter, and if you Google for it you'll currently get close to ten thousand results

Monday, 30 July 2012

Microsoft, the bleedin' advertisers

This week Microsoft produced their annual report for 2012. It's been commented on by many and the main theme seems to be that they've reported their first quarterly loss since ages (or ever).
Well, yes. And so what?

The Online Services Division, a eufemism for "we wanna go where Google went" has been a bleeder for years. Its mission:
Online Services Division (“OSD”) develops and markets information and content designed to help people simplify tasks and make more informed decisions online, and that help advertisers connect with audiences. OSD offerings include Bing, MSN, adCenter, and advertiser tools. Bing and MSN generate revenue through the sale of search and display advertising, accounting for nearly all of OSD’s annual revenue
The graph above reflects revenue (straight line) and operating income (dotted line) from 2007 till 2012. Where the other divisions flourish, it's clear that OSD doesn't.
However, OSD has changed quite a lot over the years. Here are the figures for the historic OSD up from 1999 till now:

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Apple Q3 2012 - for better or worse?

Yesterday Apple announced its figures for Q3 2012.I decided to have a good look at them, given the news and blog posts that flew around. Here are the clean stats:

2012 Q3

Revenue of $35.0 billion
Net profit of $8.8 billion
Gross margin 42.8%
26.0 million iPhones - 28% growth
17.0 million iPads - 84% growth
4.0 million Macs - 2% growth
6.8 million iPods - 10% decline

2011 Q3

Revenue of $28.6 billion
Net profit of $7.3 billion
Gross margin 41.7%
20.3 million iPhones - 142% growth
9.25 million iPads - 183% growth
4.0 million iMacs - 14% growth
7.5 million iPods - 20% decline

Good or bad, or anywhere in the vast grayscale in between? Let the data and graphs tell the truth...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The awkward Art of Selfpromotion

Yesterday I saw a post on Cloudave, written by Michael Krigsman. It was about a list of people worth following, according to Michael, if you are interested in Enterprise Software.
I scanned the list to see who was on there that I'm not already following, and was surprised to find Michael Krigsman himself on it.
As he himself titled the post "Trusted enterprise software experts: The #EnSW Twitter list" I couldn't refrain from tweeting my feelings about that:

RT @CloudAve: Trusted enterprise software experts: The #EnSW Twitter list < sad how @mkrigsman put his own name on it

However, I was too quick. @Cloudave himself pointed me to the fact that this was not Michael's list, but Dennis Moore's one - and that was correct.
So I correct my tweet by RT-ing it with a comment, and apologise:

Correction, it's @dbmoore's list. Sorry > The #EnSW Twitter list < sad how @mkrigsman put his own name on it

The post is a summation of someone else's "list" without reference to source, and it's got the author of the post on it, as well as the creator of the "list": Dennis Moore.

So I thank Cloudave, and tweet with some sarcasm that I'm pleased to see that Dennis thinks of himself a s a smart news commentator

@CloudAve thanks, read too quickly. Odd blog post then, though. However, pleased that @dbmoore thinks of himself as a smart news commentator

A while after, while myself sound asleep, Dennis responds with a tweet and an email

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Google Drive breaks Google Docs?

Starting yesterday, I've been receiving requests from people to share some of the content I have on Google Docs. Yesterday I also shared a link with a friend of mine, and he couldn't access it. That puzzled me

I checked the last link myself, signed out, and tried again - I got a log-on. What? My publicly shared link wasn't publicly shared anymore?
I checked a few other links that I've been publicly sharing for years without problems - I couldn't access them, period

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The long tail of IT: the Indian connection

This is a theoretical post lacking research and analysis - for that, I'll have to take a few days and I'll follow up in my next post.
However, I have this idea in my head and usually, that leads to something good and insightful. So please bear with me while I set out my thoughts on the Indian connection.
I've worked for a system integrator for well over a decade - I've also analysed system integrators for almost a decade. As such, I've been sandwiched between internal figures, and outside figures, and wondered where the ever deepening gap disappeared into

My thesis: system integrators (SI) are a dying breed, yet that doesn't show so much (if any) because of the fact that they hire Indians by the sackfull

Friday, 29 June 2012

How CEP will make SaaS the killer app

I got the insight at TIBCO's Transform event I blogged about yesterday - how we can finally solve the Customisation Riddle we've been unsuccessfully combating in IT for decades.
Software as a Service is breathing down our necks and guaranteed to replace quite a few on-premise apps in this decade alone. Starting with your tertiary (cleaning, reception, catering, leasing) applications and also your secondary ones (reporting, payroll, timesheets and maybe even some HR), it is likely to halt at your primary systems that support your core business

Why? Because the need for exceptions increases between the three types. Yes you can customise your SaaS and many will do so in the beginning, but it will only make your SaaS more expensive in the end - someone has to foot that bill.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

TIBCO Transform - it says it all

I attended TIBCO's Transform event in London.
Located at the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza hotel, around 600 people were there. Kicked off by Raj Verma, Senior VP of worldwide Marketing, a 2 hour session started that never bored for a minute. Very smoothly Raj led us through a full history of TIBCO, showing impressive figures like a 21% CAGR over the last 15 years, reaching almost a billion dollars in revenue with currently 3,000 employees

Having spent $130 million in R&D last year, the total R&D sum over the years accounted to $1 billion - a huge amount that proves how serious TIBCO is about innovation and fulfilling their goal of "making this world a better place"

Friday, 22 June 2012

Need a mindset for adaptation? Team up

My latest post told my story of a week of hiking.
In essence, it was a classical story of engaging a new venture, preparing for it as best as you can, being confronted with (utter) failure and adapt to the changed circumstances by listening to yourself, your peers, experts in the field - and then growing into the situation you got yourself into by adopting new and better tools and ways of behaving.
The outcome? Relatively ridiculously great success from my point of view, good effort and result from the point of view of my friends.
What lies ahead? More growth by change, and determination to continue into the direction I went. I'll lose 15 kilograms to start with (15% of current bodyweight) and take up walking - I love it, and by Jove I need the exercise

Is that how it always goes? That depends. Olivier Blanchard made the great point I'll work out here:

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Will adopting social tools leverage adaptation?

After a week of hiking in Ireland (hence the picture), it's hard to pick up blogging again. Thankfully, Michael Brito got me going and an interesting conversation, with an old theme, unfolded:

Michael, Olivier and I took it a bit further and ended up with indeed the ancient argument:

My answer? Yes and no - let me explain please

Friday, 8 June 2012

No Custom Code, No Customization, No Requirements. And No Integration

The title comes from a conversation between Ron Tolido and me in which we perused the joys and challenges of SaaS. Ron has a very sharp mind and an even sharper tongue, although he somehow magically manages to give people the idea of adressing them in their comfort zone - I never said I was done learning

Ron still works for Capgemini although he's not the lipservice-paying kind of guy, I freely float in space. I'll jot down my thoughts on what SaaS means to the world - read: IT vendors and system integrators - and of course am very interested to see what he has to say about the same

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Hybrid mobile apps will conquer the mobile enterprise

[Image by HLundgaard]

There is a difference about how we thinks things will evolve, and how they do. I've been wondering about Mobile and app stores for a while - they seem contradictionairy.
Mobile has taken such a great flight because of lowered cost and increased availability of Internet for mobile, the old-fashioned telephone has turned into a smartphone with the power of a desktop

So, with all this ubiquitous Internet around, what is the next hootest thing for Mobile? App stores, where you can download applications onto your mobile! Isn't that odd; why not browse to an app in the cloud?

Brian Katz wrote a great post on this, and I'll to it here

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Enterprise Integration interview by Richard Seroter

I got the chance to participate in Richard's Interview Series - I was number 40 and you might know what that number means to me
Richard is a principal architect and Microsoft MVP, and well-versed in integration on a whole, especially Microsoft / BizTalk. He's been blogging since 2007, authored / contributed to three books and written an extensive series on BizTalk

You can read the interview on Richard's site, or right here:

Q: You've been writing a series of provocative articles that take a bit of a contrarian view of REST as a viable enterprise (integration) mechanism. You seem pretty sceptical that REST/JSON is a practical service strategy for most enterprises. Given that an earlier post of yours also expresses doubt that XML/SOAP/WSDL is the answer, What types of services SHOULD enterprises be embracing and investing in so that they have a maintainable and usable ecosystem?

A: Tools and techniques aren't the answer to the Integration issue, and certainly not one single tool and technique. But first you'd have to know what the Integration issue actually is, before trying to formulate an answer to it

The Integration issue is that in IT there's an evolutionary, ever-changing diversity in platforms, operating systems, programming languages, applications - and now also devices and locations. Will there ever be a one-size-fits-all for even any of those? No.
I compare this diversity to human languages: they are extremely diverse, and then you have dialects and accents, and those also evolve, and the persons that speak them also get better or sometimes even worse at speaking them

So, we have to tackle that diversity - we can do that in two ways

1) We can make everyone speak the same language, e.g. English.
What's the ROI of that? It takes years, and the majority of people will never get fluent at any language. A huge investment in time and money, and what is the result?
Take American English, English English, Dutch English, but especially German English, French English and (my favourite) Indian English: very hard to understand.
What's the spin-off of that, the result? Well nothing really, given the bare fact that people speak the same language: you need to understand each other. Does you and your partner speaking the same language prevent arguments, misunderstandings? No.

You first need to find a common ground in the actual topics you want to discuss. You ask me a question, I give you an answer, and / or vice versa: we hold entire conversations by firing off requests and responses. I myself usually switch languages when I speak to e.g. Germans; when it gets hard, I switch back from German to English which is neither my native tongue but still a lot more often used than German.
Does that change the conversation? No - it just serves me better. For me there's no difference between speaking English or Dutch, but for a lot of people it would be a whole lot easier to speak just their native tongue

Take this back to Enterprise IT: you bought, built or made all those applications exactly because they play their role so very well. Each of them are Olympic athletes, perfectly apt to do what you want them to do, specialised in one thing only, well maybe 1.5. Now spend the time and money to teach them a different language - ouch! that will cost you dearly, and probably give you Frenglish or Indienglish at best.
[On a side-note, I am not making any statement about nationality or race here, I am just taking an example everyone can relate to. To me, all people are equal regardless of their physical attributes]
Now, let's see how this can be handled in a professional, business-efficient way: the European Parliament. With currently 23 languages in the EP, there are 506 (23 x 22) possible combinations of spoken languages. 750 members serve for 5 years, which means that on average 12.5 people per month get replaced

How much time and money would it cost to teach each of those e.g. English? Could that even be worthwhile? Of course not, and it would seriously hamper the content of messages sent and received across. So, they don't make all these people speak one and the same language, because the diversity and dynamics are so great, that it is simply not an option.
Remember that these 12.5 people per month getting replaced represents 1.5% of total: could you handle 1.5% of your IT landscape being replaced every month?

2) We can hire interpreters. People specialised in translating languages on the fly in mid-air, face-to-face, real-time. That exactly is what happens at the European Parliament.
Now, we run into another problem: you'd need at least 506 interpreters to handle all the diversity (= variations in language combinations). This is commonly known as the N2 (N to the power of 2) problem where (back to IT!) N2 possible combinations arise for N applications / languages.
The solution to that? Still using one common language, but this time it's used by the translators / interpreters to translate any language into, and from. The result? One fluid, fluent common language hanging in mid-air above all the awesome diversity of all languages spoken. The effort for the participants? Null, zilch. Nada. Niente. Niks. Nichts. Rien
[On a side note, the EP uses three middle languages: English, French and German. That's linguistically but also politically determined]

So, I believe in one common language so that the business is not bothered with the evolutionary IT diversity - after all, that diversity is not a goal, nor even a means; it's an unwanted side-effect that will never go away and has to be dealt with.
Do I think the business should be burdened with that diversity? Absolutely not.
Do I think the participants in the Enterprise conversations should be burdened with it? Most certainly not either

Back to your question, the answer to which will now be easy to understand. Did SOAP solve the Integration issue? No. XML? No. WSDL? No. Will REST? No. Will JSON? No. All those imposed, and all these will impose, the Integration issue onto the participants in the conversation, and the Business.
But let's turn that around: where do I see good application for either? In some places, mainly B2C. Not in A2A, and certainly not in B2B. If your customers or service consumers demand any of the above, or if you can profitably maintain or extend market share by translating from your common business language into those, and back again, please be my guest - you'd be a fool if you wouldn't.
But hold a knife to everyone's throat and force them to change their existing SOAP/XML/WSDL to REST/JSON? Good luck with that

Why do you think Google, Twitter and Facebook never used SOAP? It's too undefined a standard, even after more than a decade - and no one asks for it. I've witnessed its use and implementation in Enterprises, and it only resulted in long, heated debates about whose perception of it was right, ending up in yet another bilateral agreement that didn't result in any interoperability whatsoever.
Why do you think they booted or even refrained from using XML? It's too bloated of a syntax, doesn't add anything but overhead. I've witnessed the use and implementation of it in Enterprises, and it only resulted in long, heated debates about whose perception of it was right, ending up in yet another bilateral agreement that didn't result in any interoperability whatsoever. (sic)
Why do Twitter and Facebook now support JSON? Easy, it dramatically decreases overhead compared to XML. You'll notice that the implementation of JavaScript Object Notation has come to be extremely loosely coupled from Javascript (pun intended) and that it is only used as a flat-file syntax for exchanging information regardless of platform, operating system, etc etc etc. To no surprise, as it's ye good old fashioned CSV with a twist

So, what type of services should Enterprises embrace? Simply extending their existing back-office functionality outside the Enterprise is all.
In what form? Whichever form is best suited. Speak Chinese in China, Greek in Greece, and certainly not vice versa.
The location (= bandwidth) impacts the form because the services need to be exposed and thus transported from the back-end to somewhere else on this earth, and vice versa: the further away from the office and civilised world you get, the smaller the bandwidth.
Fit impacts the form, because most programming languages and platforms have a predefined taste, and even ready-built building blocks or components. The older the platforms and programming languages, the more old-fashioned that taste is and the higher the chance that building blocks are present, and fixed. The older the platforms and programming languages, the smaller the variety as well as the chance that building blocks are present: old will tell you: "Listen we only support format XYZ" whereas new will ask you "Well what do you have to choose from and we'll just pick one" - this is presuming that old is on the supply side, and new on the demand side

It all is a question of supply and demand. If you have ample of supply but little demand, you'll be inclined to adopt your consumers' format and transport protocols. If vice versa, you'll wave your existing format(s) across the consumers' faces and say "my way or the highway". It is as simple as that

Q: What are some the positive trends you see in enterprise integration? What are integrators doing now that they weren't doing 5 or 10 years ago?

A: Well, if my answer to the previous question was long, this one might be even longer - but it ain't. To be concise: we have to travel back to the previous century to answer this.
Back in the 80's Integration was confined to database point-to-point connections. All was batch, mostly focused at database replication when there weren't any tools for that, and the database market was still very diverse and far from mature / settled.
A decade later (I'm being very rough with regards to timelines here), Enterprise Integration moved up the stack and targeted applications itself, directly addressing the business logic layer. It was at that point that the canonical model was invented because diversity dramatically increased

In fact, the invention of the canonical model was the solution to the Integration issue

Yes it added overhead because messages had to be translated more than once, but with the batch schedule and low-frequency near-time Integration back then it was heaven on earth. It also enabled BIM and BAM although those two acronyms never made it out into the world because of the fact that the Integration filed got extremely disrupted by Web.
Then, 10 years plus a few years ago, B2C entered the arena, along with Web. Client-server happened along, and along with all that was the cheapification (some poetic freedom here) of servers and clients. Microsoft invaded the Enterprise and pushed aside the costly main- and midframes. Along with that, VB and Javascript put themselves on the stage

The result? Anyone who was handy could sit next to the business and script them through their solution - it was the point where we as an IT industry went from the old ways to the new ways. The old ways? 80% of code was meant to prevent the system from doing what it was not supposed to do. The new ways? 80% of code was directed at having the system do what it was supposed to do.
Anyone with even a faint memory can tell you that this resulted in unintelligible error messages and program dumps - yet that was beyond the scope of the initial key user.
The effects for Enterprise Integration? It put the profession back for a decade and more, reintroducing siloed point-to-point integrations

And here we are now. Over the last decade, we've tried ESB and SOA, focusing on XML and WSDL to make those happen, forcing all consumers to speak that one single language. And it failed, as I have been saying since last century that it would. W3C has become an authority, Oasis has, and countless others try to become yet another purely technical institution that is sponsored by vendors. It resulted in "standards" that are compromised to death: the standards support what their constituents support.
Will REST make up for that? Absolutely not, it is as undefined a "standard" as SOAP was, and will be. 5 Years from now a new tech discovery (no, not invention) will see the light or some old paradigm will get hijacked the way REST currently is, and the world will try to force it onto Enterprise Integration in exactly the same way. Will I stand at the front lines then? Yes, just like now

So, what are the positive trends I see? Well, not much really. I really like how XSLT enables vendor-independent XML-based mappings, yet every vendor has their own implementation of it, so there goes that win. The vendors have to uphold their lock-in and they do it very well, alas.
Yet I see some positive spin-off from SOAP with companies thinking about an envelope to accompany their messages - they're getting closer to the proven concept of old-fashioned snail mail for routing information exchange.
Gateways are still there, functioning as good old post offices, whether they are VANs or not. It depends on industry really, the financial world has remained almost untouched by the craze of the last decade (they can't afford experimenting) as have most if not all logistic and retail platforms. It is governments and semi-governments (e.g. insurance companies) that still hold the deep pockets of Mickey Mouse money with which they can finance early adoption of a tech solution to a business issue (with the likely outcome) - although that will be changed in the future too, given the current crisis

What are integrators doing now that they weren't doing 5 or 10 years ago? They just try to offer New Blacks as much as they can, regardless of their business value. Integration has become a predominantly tech-ruled field, and I despise that.
System integrators are still partnering with vendors and get a cut of the pie for every vendor product they sell to the customer. On the other hand, there are new kids on the block like tibbr, who handle Integration from a customer-friendly and even neutral perspective.
Apart from that, there are Social Integration tools flooding the world, all of them lightweight and inside-out focused, providing their customers with a few basic Integrations. All these will have to learn the hard way that there is no Integration but any-to-any, and who ever learns that quickest and best will lead that pack. But it will be 2-5 years.
A positive side-effect is that Integration has been put onto the agenda of the Social world - I can't complain about that nor would I want to

Q: What, if any, new challenges arise from integrating off-premises/SaaS applications with on-premises systems? Have you seen what decisions makes these scenarios successful, and unsuccessful?

A: Ah. Now that deserves a really long answer (just kidding). Off-premise poses exciting problems to real-time Integration - bandwidth is the new bottle-neck. Regarding successful or not scenarios, there is no choice really. does a very nice job integrating real-time and batch, limiting each of those with regards to message size depending on what you pay for. So pay-per-Integration is the new mind boggling topic for Enterprises, and speaking of which, yes JSON in stead of XML will absolutely make a difference there - I bet some sweet money on compressing data before it gets interchanged, and back again, at least for the batch variant

The big question of on-premise versus off-premise is out of the question for Integration there, as a fun side-effect: whether you Cloud your Integration solution or keep it on-premise has become irrelevant from a single CIO decision-point, as performance latency is a given now. Having your own Integration solution and hauling in off-premise data or information versus hosting it in the Cloud (right next to your SaaS) is becoming a very interesting decision matrix, highly dependent on what you SaaS where.
The speed of light doesn't help much either, although any request-response still remains sub-second in theory. A round-trip request-reply over 20,000 km will take at least 0.3 seconds, and I predict that Cloud will follow the same pattern that physical distribution of logistics warehouses whave: some centralised, some decentralised.
I expect SSD to be a best solution for making up the increased latency as Integration is all about I/O, as it always has been. Of course it won't overcome the physical barriers of speed, and if it does, let's excavate Einstein please - he wouldn't want to miss that.

The real issue, however, will be that SaaS will just tell you "hey, here's my integration syntax and transport protocol, happy now?" and eliminate the option of customising-to-death, and lest not forget, the practice of pure ESB: forcing all applications to speak the language of the Bus, reducing the Bus to an architect's wet dream that doesn't add any value whatsoever to the Business.
Of course you will be offered a choice between one or two, maybe even three, but that's it. Cloud will greatly drive standardisation, it's even one of my blog post titles I believe

New challenges in a nut shell then, wrapping this one up? Changing the supply-demand paradigm for most Enterprises into demand-supply. I really would like to see how e.g. SAP handles that, but I'm not putting any money on it any time soon. Off-premise SaaS (that's a pleonasm but hey) will confront all Integration participants with the simple fact I described above: the Integration issue is that there's an evolutionary, ever-changing diversity in the IT components that make up or affect your landscape, and the only solution to that is adapt, not adopt

Q: [stupid question]: I don't think I use more than 20% of the features of any single software product. Microsoft Office? Maybe 15%. Sparx Enterprise Architect? 10%, at best. Microsoft Visual Studio? Probably 2%. What software do you use every day, but rarely stray beyond a core set of capabilities? What software do you think you take the MOST advantage of?

A: Not a stupid question really, it's the package paradigm: you pay for 100% and never use more than 10-20%. Then you have to put up with 100% of upgrades and pay even more for functionality you don't use in terms of time and effort.
I use Notepad for the full 100%, primarily to cut and paste between applications, even if those are Microsoft Word and Microsoft Word. I use that, and PowerPoint for fancy forms / images - my world is limited to content and fancy images really.
I use plenty of programming languages to do whatever I need to do, if that gets complicated I prefer using Ultra Edit over Visual Studio. Why? Because I don't like being confronted with change. I prefer growth over change

Thank you Richard for this interview, and keep it up!

Monday, 28 May 2012

REST definition and its place within Enterprise Integration

In a previous post I explained why REST is useless when it comes to Enterprise Integration. Even though at the very beginning I explicitly stated that
Roy Fielding wrote his dissertation entirely in the context of Web
and that
REST has absolutely no business benefits whatsoever with regards to Enterprise Integration
I got surprised to say the least by comments in various channels, most from professionals, even vendor representatives. Tech people, but nonetheless

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Simple Service Enterprise - part 6

In my latest post, I recapped on the previous posts and started to take Integration from a business point of view. I'll continue to do that here, and try to mix in technical details without it getting too confusing. Wish me luck!

Here's the conversation again:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

SAP Integration? Not what I had in mind

I couldn't attend nor even follow the stream at Sapphirenow, but I picked up a few tweets on Integration. Well actually, Seb pointed one out to me.
As much as I detest it, I'll have to base this post on the limited info I retrieved - although I did browse the usual placeholders for SAP news of course.
If you read my latest post on SAP and Integration, you might presume I was a little overexcited about what was going to be announced

Well, the excitement wore off. Really off

Friday, 11 May 2012

Simple Service Enterprise - part 5

In my first post on SSE I explained why and how I want, and can achieve, and have achieved, an Enterprise Integration paradigm that will give you a device-agnostic, platform-agnostic, tool-agnostic architecture that will free you from being crushed by the two tectonic plates in IT at the moment: diversity in devices, platforms and tools on the inside, and diversity in devices, platforms and tools on the outside

In my second SSE post, I explained why the approaches of the last decade and more (XML, ESB, SOA and SOAP) have failed, and in my third post I dared to state that REST is never ever going to be a solution to solve the issues either.
The reactions I got to that mainly showed me that myopic perceptions persist across techniques - yet replacing SOAP by REST and XML by JSON without questioning the business value of any of those is now being undertaken by the most zealous, and I simply won't have it. Not on my watch

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Simple Service Enterprise - part 4

Today we'll take a REST from REST and I'll touch upon one of the issues I ran into today: the two types of data there are. REST assured however that at least a few of the next posts will be about yesterday's topic, as it has led to fierce debates here and there over the course of the day. Yes, pun intended

There are two types of main data: Master Data and Transactional Data. And both have very different CRUD models, requirements and needs

Monday, 7 May 2012

Simple Service Enterprise - part 3

My previous post showed the fundamentals of information interchange: exposing business functionality, currently encapsulated in the back-end, to the outside world via services. These services are a one-to-one translation to back-end functions, which are one-to-one translations to business process steps themselves: the smallest level of business transaction.
I also showed that the How of exposing these services, e.g. in which format, largely if not solely depends on a healthy amount of opportunism

This post will explain why REST is a bad idea, while taking the previous one a level deeper

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Simple Service Enterprise - part 2

Yesterday's post was about Simple Service Enterprise, and showed the basics: to keep up with the growing diversity inside and outside your enterprise for getting the same functionality on different devices and platforms, you need an Integration layer (the red in the middle). Can't argue with that, point-to-point integration is a neat quick and dirty solution for very small IT landscapes and doesn't scale cost effectively

SOA attempted to do so via ESB, but there a few reasons why that failed:

Simple Service Enterprise - part 1

I plead for a Simple Service Enterprise.
One that is ruled by Business, not IT.
One that is interoperable with any other business, customer or consumer, regardless of the platforms they operate on.
Regardless of the vendors that dominate those platforms.
Regardless of the programming languages used on those platforms.
Regardless of the devices used.
Regardless of the operating systems running on those devices.
Regardless of the programming languages used on those devices

I wanna have it all, for free - or almost free. I want a fuss-free, cost-efficient, business that scales horizontally, vertically, diagonally even if that's what I need; because either my customers demand it, or it allows me to gain market share - be it regaining lost share, cannibalising existing services that will be cannibalised by others if I don't do it myself, or simply gain market share in new markets

And I need IT to follow me where ever I go, sustain me all the way, not in the future, not in the near future, not when ever their partners decide to, I want it now. NOW!

I sympathise with you - and offer the solution right here

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Oh Google, why did you stop being sexy?

[Image by Exey Panteleev]

Born out of a tweet from Tom Raftery, who pointed me to Google's Terms of Services concerning their latest love child: Google Drive

I waved at Google Wave, Buzz didn't thrill me other than enabling the opt-out in Google Mail, and I jumped onto Google+ as soon as I could but the effort I put into it (and the goodies I got from it) went downhill fairly soon after.
I skipped Google Drive. I have a fully mirrored NAS meaning I don't care if a disk breaks, I can access it from anywhere in the world and the fast-moving docs I have on my laptop and phone as well, as I have to be able to work offline anywhere, for any duration

So, I didn't read their Terms of Service - but someone else did, and it looks awful

Monday, 23 April 2012

Why management rocks, and leadership sucks

[Image by _MG_5503]

The past 24 hours I had a fierce conversation on leadership and management, and I love how just everyone joined in on Twitter; especially those that disagree with me because they teach me most in the shortest amount of time

I started it with
By the way, that picture of the Redskins cheerleaders is just there to spice up my blog and the post. Might lead your eyes astray for a moment, but no pun intended. I had a very hard time to select photographs that weren't shot at some battlefield or military institution, seems like the US army keeps their men happy that way. Now that is what I call management par example...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

SAP gets the Future of Integration

OK, I'll admit it: this title is heavily (heavenly?) influenced by the previous Easter weekend - yet has no relation to it whatsoever. Or has it?

Let's skip the usual introduction, here is the message from Vishal Sikka that absolutely thrilled me

I have never been a big fan of SAP. I presented my Enterprise Integration 101 at Sap Inside Tech NL last year, and the Borg picture of poor old Jean-Luc Picard is some representation of my feelings regarding any (ERP) monolith

Yet, after this tweet, I have been turned. Into a Borg? Maybe - I just couldn't care less at the moment