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.
Enterprise Web 2.0
Dion Hinchcliffe on leveraging the convergence of IT and the next generation of the Web.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an expert in information technology, business strategy, and next-generation enterprises.
As I read Mitch Ratcliffe's recent rant on change, I really felt myself agreeing with him wholeheartedly, until I got about halfway through. More on that in a moment.
Barely a year old as a term, the Ajax browser programming technique has received a lot of press and industry attention in the last few months. Not the least because head-turning software is being developed with it. Ajax sparking yet another big push towards Software as a Service on the Web and even the biggest software players like Microsoft are making significant investments in Ajax desktops, online business software, as well as elaborate Ajax development frameworks such as Microsoft's forthcoming Atlas product.
There's been a lot of interest recently in the social aspects of Web 2.0 experiences because of their tendency to alter the communities that use them. As part of tracking this, I wrote recently about McKinsey and Co.'s discussion of coming Interaction Age that discusses how optimizing for high-value tacit interactions between people will become the next major driver of productivity world-wide. A lot of folks call these pull-based interaction systems, which value reputation and trust above all other things, Social Computing.
The Silicon Valley Web 2.0 upstart, eponymously named Upstartle, confirmed today that they were recently acquired by Google. Their excellent Web-based word processer, Writely, is a gem of online software and is probably the crown jewel in the Web 2.0 software space. The rumors of acquisition had been swirling recently and in retrospect, the purchase makes sense.
No doubt it's partially due to the Etech conference but it's certainly an exciting week to be a mashup developer. The Web as a platform in its own right got a couple of significant boosts in the last few days as well as a the usual round of additions and improvements. Though the nascent world of mashups is just starting and its anybody's guess as to how significant it will ultimately become, the story looks more and more interesting as the tools really start to shape up. And more importantly, the number of high-quality, open APIs continues to flourish and that's where we start this story.
The online social software services like del.icio.us let us do a remarkable thing. They create another good reason to store our data online for all to share. I can't tell you how many times I've made terrific discoveries because of del.icio.us/popular or Blinklist. And then added those discoveries to my own bookmarks, further increasing the public pool of knowledge. These relevance engines really do make excellent use of the data that we publicly conglomerate on these types of sites. The point here is that the value of software and data online is often much greater than the value of software and information offline.
Too often cut off from direct accountability and saddled with a long backlog of user demands, IT departments frequently have little incentive or ability to be responsive to the business. And like personal computing did to the previous generation of computing, this will drive businesses to solve their own problems using simple, inexpensive alternatives. Yes, folks, I'm talking about Software as a Service (SaaS).
I've been following Dave Winer's various work for years now but none of it has been quite as interesting as watching the political imbroglios surrounding RSS 2.0. The RSS format itself is something that is still creeping onto the radar of users in the mainstream but it's something we will all get increasingly familiar with in the coming years. And Dave has been a faithful steward of the current RSS specification, which has become a platform in its own right that thousands of people have invested countless hours and financial resources in and millions of people use daily, whether they know it or not.
With all the recent coverage of Web 2.0 and the enterprise, one of the things that isn't discussed enough is the way Web 2.0 is highlighting compelling alternatives to the usual ways of producing software. One of the more recent write-ups in this vein was Stephen Bryant's Five Reasons Why Web 2.0 and Enterprises Don't Mix. Stephen's points are generally right on and capture well the impedance that many larger organizations encounter when they try to take advantage of Web 2.0 ideas for themselves.