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Saturday, February 04, 2006


Mashups and Outsourced Services: Caution for Now

Sandy Kemsley wrote a great post on mashups and corporate SOAs the other day and I'm on board with all of it. However...the following statement gave me pause:

'Dion Hinchcliffe thinks that 80% of enterprise applications could be provided by external services, which is a great equalizer for smaller businesses that don't have huge IT budgets, and could almost completely disconnect the issue of business agility from the size of your development team. I think that it's time for some hard introspection about what business that you're really in: if your organization is in the business of selling financial services, what are you doing writing software from scratch when you could be wiring it together using BPM and the global SOA that's out there?'

Wonderful scenario, but there have been a couple of events over the last few weeks that should give one pause before immediately going forth and downsizing the development teams: Salesforce.com's outages and subsequent commentary. In a nutshell, salesforce.com suffered a severe outage in their CRM site a few weeks ago...extending out to hours, and a minor one sometime after that.

While no system can exhibit 100% uptime, what's more troublesome is the "I'm peeing on your leg and telling you that its raining" response by Salesforce's management to the, as they characterized it, 'minor' outages suffered. Nick Carr covered the specifics of the outages and other commentary about them here.

This situation illustrates the primary concerns currently I have with SOA and SaaS, particularly when the major distribution of services comes from outside an organization: reliability, with secondary issues about orchestration and scale/performance.

Dion's scenario will occur eventually (and should), but we're on a curve right now where there are going to be repeated incidents of this type over the next few years. The trick will be what kinds of trust level and transparency ensues with outages and more importantly, how they're handled by SaaS suppliers. Anything else other than brutal honesty and better performance down the road smells only like hucksterism and hype.

Which are in large quantity at the moment in the SOA and SaaS segments of our industry.

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