Creating SilosI came across this Infoworld article about Gartner's predictions for the business intelligence market (aside: I think business intelligence will be a much bigger part of this year's Defrag conference), and this specific bit hit me (emphasis mine):
"So business units will increase spending on packaged analytics, including corporate performance management, predictive analytics, and online marketing BI wares. In so doing, however, they "risk creating silos of applications and information, which will limit cross-function analysis, add complexity, and delay corporate planning and execution of changes," said Nigel Rayner, research vice president at Gartner, in a prepared statement."There's something very interesting happening in enterprise software. Business units are starting to purchase software (as a service) that uses the web as a platform (obviously). And because of that, the "silo" problem is going to get radically worse - and fast. The problems that result are not just business process oriented, but are also fundamentally architectural in nature. Of course, the larger problem isn't just in the enterprise. The "problem" (opportunity) lies in the web becoming the platform. The IT function inside of enterprises spent an enormous amount of money and time in the late 90s trying to solve the "enterprise application integration" problem. Huge companies were made in the process (Oracle, CA, heck - just about everybody). But just as that problem is at least partially under control, we're now facing the web application integration problem. (sidenote: I'm officially claiming "WAI" as an acronym.) Web application integration is the meta-theme for Glue. It's what brings together cloud computing, APIs, WOA, data integration, identity, context, the open social stack --all of it. It is important that we realize that this trend is being driven not only by the innovation that's occurred around the web as platform over the last few years (call it "web 2.0"), but also by the adoption of software by *business units*. This fundamental shift will remake IT in the enterprise as we know it (over the next 10 years). We can already begin to see that in statements about how business units have "lost faith" in IT's ability to deliver what business units need. And what's the result? Business units are now just providing it for themselves. The architectural implications of that bit alone are enormous. But I'm assuming that IT units are not just going to go quietly into that dark night. CIOs and enterprise architects aren't just going to give up their livelihood. Nor should they. The problems created by business unit adoption (complexity, lack of cross-app functionality, a completely un-orchestrated approach to IT) can ultimately lead us to a place where technology is giving business ZERO productivity gains. So, what's an enterprise architect to do? Begin to understand the shovels and picks and tools that will help "glue" it all together. It doesn't really matter what the software *does* (it could be BI, or expense management, or CRM, or identity management), what matters is how it interacts and intersects with other applications. Getting a handle on it means understanding the nuts and bolts of things like scaling APIs, XMPP, event driven architecture, running apps in the cloud, cross-app context, etc. It means that some of the seemingly "consumer facing" problems and solutions that exist today will be the foundation for enterprise solutions tomorrow. If IT simply allows silos to be created all over again on the web, the problem will be much worse this time around. The web is open, networked, and, in a sense, not tame-able. It calls for the kind of radically distributed architecture that SOA has promised and (largely by no fault of it's own) failed to deliver. It's the big opportunity that Glue is addressing. And I'd love to hear your thoughts about how to address it properly.
Glue begins to take shapeIt seems like everyone is naming their product "Glue" these days (for the record, our first post here was on March 18th, 2008), but that's cool because Glue the conference is already starting to take shape. Our sponsors now include: Amazon Web Services, Gnip, MindTouch, NewsGator, Ping Identity, Microsoft, Cloud Ave, and Saugatuck Technology Research. A few notes, then:
- As I've been chatting with folks about Glue, the "vision" of what Glue will be has started to come into focus a bit more. It all begins with the assumption that the web is the platform, and then asks, "now what?" Put another way, Glue is exploring what it means when applications are just assumed to live on the web. The result is that three topics have immediately crystallized: cloud computing (infrastructure glue), data integration (data glue - where "data" means everything from mashups to identity), and web oriented architecture (or, what happens beyond SOA?). The format for topics like this is clearly a technical one, and folks I've spoken with are indicating a real hunger for a conference that's going to "go deep." Format-wise, that'll mean technical workshops, open spaces and hack-a-thons situated around more traditional "content."
- So, what kind of "specific" topic ideas have I started to receive? Jud Valeski of Gnip has offered up some great ideas that are indicative of the level/kind of stuff I think we'll end up having at Glue (quoting Jud): 1) "How do we evolve past LAMP" - the old, client-server-desktop, app building model died a long time ago, yet the "new way" hasn't been as good replacement in a lot of ways. why? how do we solve this? 2) "Keep it simple stupid" [WOA] = the best glues are often as simple as tree sap, highly complex chemically engineered glues are often overboard. 3) "Is the real cloud, actually glue?" - deploying code to virtualized instances is cool and all, but the cloud/glue is really abstracting the layers (e.g. data/db/big-table) and making those accessible in an "instance" independent way.
- That's just one topic area, but you get the point. Really "meaty" stuff.We're still way early in the process, but we're now officially working on this, so I'd love to hear from you. If you're interested in becoming a sponsor, please email me (enorlinATmac.com). Or, if you're feeling nutty and wanna register early (pre-agenda), go do so. The code "early1" will get you $50 bucks off of the already insanely-low price of $395.00.
A Sunday Morning Update
Quietly quietly, things are beginning to take their initial shape for the inaugural Glue conference. The naysayers point to O'Reilly shuttering events and say that launching a conference like Glue is crazy in 2009. I point to past experience, and Glue's pricing model, and say that Glue will be a huge hit. In fact, we're already seeing lots of interest:
1. Glue's advisory board now includes Zoli Erdos of Cloud Ave, Phil Wainewright of ZDNet, Chris Shipley of DEMO and Guidewire Group, and Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures.
2. Glue's initial sponsors now include Gnip, Amazon Web Services, MindTouch and Cloud Ave.
So, what's next? Well, as we begin to flesh out the sponsor list, I'll also start digging into topic ideas. We know that the cloudification of everything will be important, but I also want to make sure we keep a firm hand on the rudder of web oriented architecture (WOA) and how things like widgets, federated identity, and data mash-ups are stitching together (or should I say "gluing") everything from content, to data to identity.
Why should you think about coming to Glue before we even have an agenda posted? Glue will be a technical, "workshop-y" look at everything that developers (both independent and enterprise) and architects need to understand as more and more and all applications move to the web as platform. And you just can't get that anywhere else - now or in 2009. You certainly can't get it for only $395 (for a 2 day conference). Register now.
Financial crises and the leading edge of GlueEveryone's hearing about the mess on Wall Street. In that context, this bit in Computerworld caught my eye:
Paul Polishuk, president of the research group at Information Gatekeepers Inc., said that the increasing number of mergers and acquisitions will boost the market for IT firms that specialize in integrating networks. "Because Merrill Lynch is going to be bought by Bank of America, their assets are going to have to be upgraded," he said. "And since Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are two very different businesses, a good deal of work will have to be done to get them integrated."It made me think about some of the new "web oriented architectures" and how all of that will get effected. Now, ideally, the "web as platform" erases those problems, right? Yea, right (not)! It seems to me that "glue" companies might just be born in the fires of various cutting edge integration projects that this crisis will bring. After all, nearly every great software company was born in a "recession." 2008-2009: the years of crisis that give birth to Glue software companies. Mark the dates.
Yahoo knows a good thing when they see itYahoo!, knowing a good thing when they see it, has decided to name their new offering after the Glue conference. I kid, of course, but only slightly. Yahoo's "Glue pages" does touch on the underpinning of the idea behind the Glue conference - namely, that once the web becomes the platform (check), the next major task is to integrate all of the web architecture we've built -- including search results. Accordingly, Glue pages:
...will leverage the Yahoo application platform...in coming months," Kelly said, though today it doesn't yet. "We will eventually open it up, so developers could develop customized search results for Glue Pages the way we're doing it for Search Monkey."Turning search into a platform is a good idea. Giving people a means to "glue" that together with whatever they want is an even better idea - and it cuts through the "closed" nature of so much of today's web-oriented architecture. Between Microsoft's Live Mesh and Yahoo!'s Glue pages, we've now got two of the "big boys" (who were almost one) acknowledging what we're all about over here. And that's a good thing.
WOA and glue
Dana Gardner has an interesting post about how "web oriented architecture" may be closing the window on the opportunity that is "service oriented architecture." In it, he hints at the idea that SOA is an extension of the EAI (enterprise application integration) of the late 90s, while WOA is the new and fertile ground in enterprise IT architecture.
Obviously, over here at Glue, we agree. In fact, one of the ideas behind Glue is that WOA is not only "eclipsing" other architectures, but that the big problem of EAI is happening all over again. EAI basically tried to "glue" together applications behind a firewall on a corporate network (and gave rise to a great many of the "suites" - like identity management suites - that we see today).
As WOA creeps into the enterprise, the integration (read: gluing together) of those apps becomes a ginormous problem once again. And that is one huge Glue thread.