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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Software – Commoditised & Free

Software at the infrastructure level is getting commoditized and becoming almost free, writes Phil Wainewright.Application logic is getting abstracted out of software and into standards-compliant XML documents. Once all of the identities and rules that define a set of processes (ie an application) can be expressed as XML, then creating or modifying an application becomes an editing task rather than a programming job. Some software experts will earn a living from operating the infrastructure(built with opensource) that processes the XML documents.Today the commoditization of software is most evident in middleware. Application software is next, claims Phil. ESB vendors(already claiming ten times savings) are beginning to opensource - Mule opensource ESB, now Iona’s Celtic, Sun’s OpenESB etc. abound. Phil writes the only danger here is that interoperability may suffer!! Middleware components when open sourced may become a hindrance to interoperability.. Oops.
Cisco’s foray into middleware is another example of the software integration vendors roof weakening to eventually fall. Phil rightly points to the connect with the J2EE server that hosts many of these software integration products. Once everything is expressed (using XML) in terms of identity and rules, then the primary integration operations are routing and transformation, for which the overhead of J2EE is overkill, commoditizing it further.True foundation for SOA does not come from ESB, EAI, J2EE vendors. Service oriented architecture really does have to be oriented around services. Once it has that orientation firmly at its heart then every individual vendor, platform and technology becomes interchangeable. When the components of a system become interchangeable, they quickly become commoditized As more and more organizations come to understand and implement truly platform-independent SOA, they will increasingly make such calculations — and the comparisons will gradually edge their way up the stack..
My Take : While I agree with Phil’s brilliant assessment on technology evolution upto this – I disagree with him when he says that even the tools that business managers use for codeless application assembly will be built with open-source/commoditised software. Building enterprise applications using opensource looks like a pipedream to me. – Guys get real. I do not see the cost savings by order of ten or so even at ESB levels and most of the product guys talk about minimizing /eliminating services cost is bull - Can services be really that free – How many out-of-the box functionalities that we have seen talked about in sales cycle and disappearing during execution .Application software and business rules processing are not easy repetitive processes – we are dealing with a myriad of issues here – organizational, locked in investments, change management, switching costs, regulatory needs, distributed locations,Scalability needs,Security concerns, IT governance issues etc.

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