What ever became of San Francisco?

Time to dust off an idea that came and went before its time?
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

What ever became of San Francisco?  The IBM project that is, not the town, which seems to be doing just fine and hilly, last time I checked. 

James Governor takes us on this trip down recent memory lane, and speculates that IBM's failed San Francisco Project may have been quite a hit had it been around today. (Some details, circa 1998, here.)

Was San Francisco just a few years ahead of its time? I tracked the project back in its heyday in the mid to late 1990s, when it was generating quite a bit of excitement within the IBM ISV community. In James Governor's words: "It was an IBM initiative to turn some basic business application functionality -- general ledger, say -- into shared intellectual property that a range of ISVs could use to build applications. The San Francisco Project (SFP) basically failed, with much of the technology being folded into other efforts, notably Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) in 1998."

Somewhere around this time as well, IBM decided it didn't want to be in the application business in a big way, opting instead for strategic industry partnerships.

Of course, this idea of building shareable, pre-fab business components came a little too soon before Web services standardization, SOA, and community supported open source hit the industry in a big way. Governor notes that IBM probably still has the San Francisco components, which could be dusted off to leverage a community-built standardized infrastructure against Oracle and Microsoft.

Frankly, I'm surprised we aren't hearing more about San Francisco types of initiatives, which are more global in reach than individual corporate SOA efforts. Are we better off sharing applications that come out of collaborative industry efforts, or should we keep things in house?


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