I feel as if someone tacked a “show me your enterprise service bus” sign onto my back and I’ve been walking around blissfully unaware of this fact for months now. Client presentations, vendor presentations, casual conversations – everyone wants to show off their visuals of an ESB, SOA, and next generation architectures. Thank goodness there’s no fine print on my sign restricting me from asking tough (and not so tough) questions.
- So how do I avoid vendor lock in?
- Do we really need SOAP?
- Grid computing… show me some client references!
- JSR 168 portals… yawn.
To escalate the situation, I came up with my own next generation architecture diagram and talked it through with a bunch of my peers. People liked it at first because of all the nice icons. They really loved it when the answer to any of the hard questions was “let me show you how this works, do you have a Web browser handy?” I’ve included the diagram below for your enjoyment and jotted down some quick write-ups with the obligatory links so that you can see, understand, and convince yourself of the reality of these tools.
- Ruby on Rails – Although there are tons of free services and a number of high quality paid services that can be leveraged to enhance applications on the Web, it’s hard to go very far without having some dedicated computing power. Using Ruby on Rails and MySql will get you the maximum bang for your buck (that’s no bucks for those who are counting). While you’re riding the Rails, make sure to take advantage of Ruby gems and Rails plugins.
- Web Service APIs – Lots of folks talk about enterprise applications that invoke common APIs to store documents, images, or access business services. For most, it’s talk of a far off and distant future. Would you like to see how this works today? Check out box.net, flickr, and salesforce.com for file, image, and business Web Service APIs in action.
- Yahoo Pipes – The minibus within the bus, Yahoo pipes provide a visual environment for aggregating, manipulating, and mashing up data and producing value-added output. Good mashup implementation but the interactive visual editor gets most of the attention – rightfully so. Imagine your business users mashing up business data to solve problems in new and creative ways that your analysts and developers never imagined. Google Base – A loosely organized, metadata-driven, data store available through Google. Data is accessible via an HTTP API with either Atom or JSON feeds.
- Open ID – Rather than supported a single point of control system for authentication, like Microsoft’s Passport, OpenID is a decentralized system that relies upon distributed identity stores and, for the most part, ownership of a particular URI. The system is lightweight yet still manages to provide for the distribution of basic profile information in addition to straight authentication. With more and more sites adopting this service, adoption is likely to steadily increase over the next several years.
- Amazon Web Services – Despite the lack of any hard-and-fast SLAs on their services, developers are increasingly leveraging the AWS platform for production applications. Their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) provides the average developer access to a significant grid computing array. Their Simple Storage Service (S3) and Simple Queue Service (SQS) provide access to globally distributed storage and messaging services, respectively. All of this is based upon a very fair “pay as you go” model that requires you to only pay for what you use and scale up and down without the usual provisioning and financial burdens.
- Sugar CRM – For one, I like Sugar’s tagline “Commercial Open Source”. A PHP-based CRM alternative to products like Siebel and Salesforce.com, Sugar is gaining pretty significant traction in the marketplace and is proving to be the first lucrative open source business application. The software has a good look and feel to it and their distribution options will likely set the standard for all other open source business software. You can opt for off-site dedicated hosting (on-demand), fully configured appliance-based distribution, or host-it-yourself (with or without a support contract).
- Bit Torrent – Peer-to-peer file sharing technologies have yet to find their place in the enterprise. On the open Internet, though, such technologies are said to account for as much as 40% of global Internet traffic. As desktop search technologies mature, sharing of decentralized data is going to be the best way to get at all of the knowledge otherwise hidden within the enterprise.
- Google Gears – If you don’t have the time or inclination to build offline clients to support your disconnected users, how about just making your Web app “disconnectable”? Gone are the cross platform, DLL, and distribution issues. Your Web app can sense when it’s lost network connectivity and go into disconnected mode. A great idea that will likely only gain limited traction in the enterprise.
- Netvibes Universal Widget API (UWA) – JSR 168 (or is it 286 now) compliant portlets seem so passé. With widget-based start pages becoming the norm and Windows and Apple both integrating widgets as integral parts of the future desktops, “write once, run anywhere” were just a matter of time.
- Microsoft Virtual Earth – I’ve blogged about this before and even did a quick Webcast. Take the hottest Web 2.0 visualization technique (AJAX maps), add birds-eye views in 2D and realistic 3D virtual earth renderings that run in-browser for both IE and Firefox and you’ve got Virtual Earth. It simply must be experienced to be believed.
- Simile Timeline – An equally interesting visualization technique but one that’s got significantly less press is the Simile Timeline AJAX widget for bringing time-based information to life.