Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Web2.0, SOA and the Future of Telecom

I was researching several, unrelated narratives - one on SOA and Web.20, the other on VoIP and the future of Telecom - when suddenly the narratives got remixed into a surprising mashed-up synthesis, involving all these pro-tag-onists: Web2.0 and [the global] SOA; stupid networks vs. intelligent networks; Free Internet, two-tier Internet, and broken Internet; the forthcoming Telco War, [the inevitable] Google and so forth.

(* the more I use del.icio.us for my daily work, the more I feel like I'm living in a world of tags, where the tag is as real as the object it refers to. This is called Hyperreality – an interesting subject by itself).

In the post(s) that follow I will describe this synthesis, which claims that no war is needed and that the Telco companies are having a critical role in shaping the Read/Write Web, better known as Web2.0.

Web2.0 is the Global Point to Point

Dion Hinchcliffe, Dave Lintichum and others pointed out recently to the similarities between web2.0 and SOA: both enable easy reuse of existing APIs while promoting the creation of composite applications, or mash-ups. SOA is Enterprise-oriented, Web2.0 is WWW-oriented, but fundamentally Web 2.0 is the Global SOA, and SOA is the "mini-me" of Web2.0.
I tend to disagree. Hinchcliffe himself is explicitly referring to “significantly divergent” characteristics between the two: "SOA has much more central control, management, and governance while Web 2.0 is free wheeling, decentralized, grassroots, and with absolutely no command and control structure". Well, I think that the essence of SOA IS Management & Control, and that therefore SOA and Web2.0 are essentially different. Moreover, I see a total resemblance between the current state of the Read/Write Web and the pre-SOA (or the unmanaged) Enterprise. We used to call that architecture Point to Point, and web2.0 is nothing but a World-Wide Yarn Ball.

I already discussed the great error, IMHO, that Microsoft and IBM committed, by releasing the first WS-related standards without an adequate SOA management & control platform. By that they allowed rapid, unmanaged, application development, but with the same inevitable outcome of poor quality, availability, scalability etc.

The repetitive failures of Web 2.0 services, such as salesforce.com, del.icio.us and six apart – to name few that recently broke up – and the domino-effect they've created are the result of missing management architecture and infrastructure. Add to that the lack of identity management (the missing Identity 2.0) and the lack of any mechanism to globally control service abuse (*) and you receive a Read/Write Web that justifies the title “The Internet Is Broken”.

My argument is, therefore, that Web2.0 is in a desperate need for a Global SOA management and control layer, as the current architecture prohibits business-oriented, mission-critical consumption of mash-ups. And as I explained in my post on Always-On Services - the definition of mission-criticality is entirely subjective!.

If you accept this argument, then the inevitable next step would be to figure out who's capable of providing such a World Wide Management & Control Infrastructure. Asked differently, who's capable of managing the Internet?

My thesis, which will be presented in my next post, is that the Telecom companies are in an excellent position to be the Global SOA providers. This will require kind of an out-of-the-box thinking for the Telco guys, as currently they are busy preparing A WAR. ”We’re witnessing the beginnings of a titanic clash between the internet and the telecommunications industry”, says Alec Saunders in the beginning of his Voice 2.0 Manifesto. I believe this clash can be avoided, unless, of course, someone already paid for the battlefield.

Ambassador Trentino: I am willing to do anything to prevent this war.
Rufus T. Firefly: It's too late. I've already paid a month's rent on the battlefield.

The Marx Brothers, Duck Soup (1933)


(*) An astounding example of a service abuse is Hotmail. In an interesting article by ACMQueue, Phil Smoot, product unit manager in Microsoft’s MSN division, reveals that 75% of all mails are Spam. Handling spam before it gets to the service provider requires Intelligent Network filtering. Similarly to Cisco’s Network Admission Control which allows for first-line Virus detection and elimination already in the Network Layer, the Global SOA should allow for detection and prevention of spam or any other fraudulent/abusive usage of a service before it reaches the service provider itself. Well, at least as a first-line protection.

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