Saturday, March 14, 2009

Greg the Architect: SOA What?

Did dinosaurs really become extinct or did they just evolve into birds? Did all the Neanderthals really die or did they devolve into us? (Remember, evolution doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means more apt to survive current conditions.)

Thus I view with enormous skepticism the various Death of SOA commentary found here and there. Jeez, it's as if some people write teasing headlines, thoughtless questions, and vapid observations just to grab web traffic. I'm shocked, shocked. After all, isn't SOA just evolving into The Cloud? I mean, after all these decades the mainframe and COBOL are not dead yet. Why would SOA be?

Speaking of vapid, I've posted an interview I did with Greg the Architect about a year ago. It ran in a print issue of NOW Magazine in 2008.

But now, as with, you know, The Basement Tapes (ID check in force to see if you truly remember what I'm talking about), this interview has been rediscovered and posted at my author's site.

It wasn't easy interviewing a small, plastic figurine, as these outtake from the interview attests:

Me: How would you rate the difficulty in implementing SOA?

Greg: Difficult

Me: How difficult?

Greg: Very difficult

Hey, bring on Joaquin!

Greg was in the throes of a SOA implementation at the time we interviewed him. I've been trying to reach him over the past few days to see if he's thinking about The Cloud yet. I'm sure his thinking has evolved over the past year.

Friday, March 13, 2009

China Wants Us to be Credible

It was with amazement that I read of China premier Wen Jiabao's wish for the US to remain "a credible country."

Wen was expressing his fears of a weaker dollar, which would diminish the value of China's trillion-dollar-plus holding in US treasury bonds, and multi-trillion-dollar overall investment in Uncle Sam.

The translator's use of the word "credible" no doubt carries the very specific meaning of the US regaining and remaining credit-worthy, to keep the dollar attractive and strong. But I have to say the use of this word must surely sting most of us here in the US.

For any serious country in the world to doubt that the US can remain "credible" is something shocks anyone who remembers an era when the US was considered to be "the good guys." Now we are not only not the guys in the white hats, but we have an enormous nation with whom we are co-dependent worrying about whether we are "credible" ? Indeed.

The country famously lost credibility during the Vietnam War era, a time when innumerable other foreign policy abuses came to light and three consecutive presidents were wrenched from office--by assassination, a catastrophic popularity drop, and threat of impeachment, respectively.

The US slowly regained credibility in the intervening decades, a high point being the fall of the Berlin wall and dissolution of the Soviet Union, but has now become a risible facsimile of the "world's only superpower." The reasons for this are complex, in my view, and I will not take any political stance here.

But I do note the irony in having China--a country that is well-known for a sophisticated strategy that weakens its currency--fret about the US weakening the dollar.

Wait, maybe it's not ironic. China needs to keep its currency weak so that it can continue to stoke the flames of its house-on-fire manufacturing base growth rate. Should the greenback start to weaken again, China's leaders can envision a spiral in which their investments go poof along with their manufacturing base.

So premier Wen's concerns are real, concrete, and credible. But currency markets are notorious for their unpredictibility. After all, the dollar's new-found strength of last summer played a role in bursting the oil-price bubble, and it was the oil-price bubble that played a huge role in bursting the US housing bubble, which in turn killed the stock market, which in turn drove the price of oil down further.

Meanwhile, the dollar stayed strong. Now that we may be glimpsing the early spring days of a recovery, will the dollar ironically start to weaken, and thereby cause China to lose faith in US investments? If so, the recent/current recession will just be the overture to the Wagnerian opera.

Eoww, too much thinking, I need to lie down for awhile...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Google Promises Evil-Free Outage Policy

Slow news day, so a 30-minute outage by Google--shutting "millions" out of their email accounts, gasp--merits some seriously extensive coverage.

Google responds by promising to be more open and transparent about acknowledging and addressing such outages.

Great, OK, fine. But how about applying a don't-do-evil policy to something much more important? To wit, I wonder when Google (and other monster datafarm owners) will tell everyone where they keep all their servers?

The games they play, ostensibly from corporate security concerns but truly from the potential embarrassment in letting the world know how un-green they are, seem ludicrous.

You've never seen Dow Chemical or any nuked-up utility try to hide their locations, have you?

As the importance of these server farms is only going to increase, probably exponentially in the coming decades, why not just let everyone know what's going on?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

California Governor Tom Campbell?

eBay ex-CEO Meg Whitman has been getting the recent Silicon Valley pub for her gubernatorial run in California, but we shouldn't forget about her fellow Republican and Silicon Valley notable Tom Campbell, who has served as a U.S. congressman, UC-Berkeley Haas School dean, and top staffer for Gov. Schwarzenegger.

I won't say whether I support any of the Republicans running for the office, any of the Democrats, anyone else, or even whether I truly believe in the democratic process. I will say that I interviewed Tom about a year ago, and had the interview published in an early issue of NOW Mag.

We posted it in .pdf form on our mag site awhile back, but now it's available in html form on my author site. He doesn't talk about politics in this interview, but about big issues.

I have no idea if he would be a good governor, but he's an entertaining and highly intelligent guy to interview!

Innovate with SOA

We just posted an article from Issue 4 of NOW Mag, published last April. It's about innovating with SOA, and it's still very relevant, we think.

Economic crisis or no, it's still muy importante that companies are looking at all of the services within their enterprise IT fiefdoms and busting them out into some SOA-centric, virtualized thinking.

You optimize operations, provide a better user interface (leading to fewer user-related problem calls), and you can create new worlds out of your existing Lego blocks.

We broke the article into two pieces for easier consumption (and yes I'll be honest, more page views.) You can find it at my author site or you can just google "Innovate with SOA."

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ha-Joon Chang Loathes Globalization

Well, not really, but he does loathe the way a lot of countries view globalization.

We just published an interview I did with the economist Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, whose recent books include Bad Samaritans and Kicking Away the Ladder. He spoke at Stanford last year and I was lucky enough to catch up with him, as he's based at Cambridge University in the UK.

I got the interview posted at a new authors' website. Contact me for a print issue of NOW, and you read it in there as well.

Dr. Chang believes that rich nations such as the US are inherently hypocritical when they argue for free trade and a level playing field. He contends that they built their wealth under no such principles. His books and my interview are very high-level and non-technical, but for those who wish to dive deeply into his dismal science work, it's easy enough to find.

The relevance of Dr. Chang to me is that globalization is here to stay, and is really not an intellectual principle so much as a practical reality that reflects our highly connected, round world of fluid capital flows--and more important--communications of a sophistication that was unimaginable as recently as 15 years ago.

Plus, he told a really funny joke during his presentation at Stanford, in an accent that he knows remains thick and which just added to the merriment!