The last few days here at SPARK and MIX 06 have been a miniature version of the whirlwind of forces that are remaking and reshaping the Web today. Setting the stage for the week was SPARK, Microsoft's workshop on the future of software architecture. With an emphasis on the convergence of Web 2.0, Software as a Service (SaaS), and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), the event brought together 28 of the top people in IT architecture to brainstorm about the near-term future direction of software architecture. It's clear that the scale and vibracy of the Web today is altering everything it comes in contact with, including the enterprise. How exactly and in what ways was the reason why we were there.
Interestingly, a lot of folks in the wider community have still barely heard the term Web 2.0. And though SOA has been around for a while it's 1) hard to get people worked up about it and 2) is also almost completely unknown outside the IT community. Yet the release over the last year of hundreds of compelling online social software applications, the mashup phenomenon, the rise of Ajax, and overnight emergence of titanic online social communities like MySpace tells us something important and interesting is happening. In the end, to illustrate the commonality of all these forces in both the online and enterprise space, I like SPARK organizer Mike Platt's distillation the best. You guess whether it's meant to be for Web 2.0 or SOA:
- Network and devices as a platform
- Data consumption and remixing from all sources including user generated data
- Continuous update
- Rich and interactive UI
- Architecture of participation
OK, yes, it's a distillation of Web 2.0 from Tim O'Reilly's compact definition, but the point is that it could just as easily be for any reasonable software architecture.
One product of the event was a visualization that captures the major elements and bindings in software today. As ambitious a goal as it was, and despite being very much a work in progress, I think it's a credible first look beyond Web 2.0 and SOA into where we'll be in software in the next few years. Plenty more details on what happened at SPARK here.
I also finally got to meet a lot of folks that I've been following for years including ZDNet's own Phil Wainewright as well as the Burton Group's Anne Thomas Manes. One of the more interesting attendees was the young Aber Whitcomb, CTO of MySpace, and the stories of how MySpace is growing (250,000+ new users a day recently) and the enormous problems they face such as screening the user generated content of tens of millions of users is fascinating and an indicator of the future to come for many of us.
I'm here at the MIX 06 conference this week and I have to go catch some more sessions but next up I'll write on the widely covered conversation between Bill Gates and Tim O'Reilly yesterday morning at the beginning of the conference. I have my own views and analysis and some interesting things definitely came out of the discussion.