Thursday, February 22, 2007

Understanding SOA Security

Earlier on int this blog, I've made several posts about Service Oriented Architecture, such as SOA means Business! or SOA's Business Value and also a couple of glib posts about "Web 2.0" such as Web 2.0 approaches.

(SOA is often mentioned by some commentators in the same breath as Web 2.0, but it's definitely not synonymous. In fact, SOA applications don't necessarily even have to run across the Web, though in many of not most cases they will. I'm obviously not the only one who thinks this, as indicated by tow recent posts: Can, or should SOA be implemented without web services? and TRUE or FALSE: SOA cannot be implemented without web services? )

Not to forget my own concept of "Web Pi" ... see "Web 2.0" and "Web Pi" -- Reject Reality and Substitute Your Own! By all means feel free to use the term and espouse the concept (if you're game), but it's a cynical enough concept for me to have a deep-seated psychological need to keep attribution to it!

Anyhow, one of the essential requirements of SOA is that all services must observe appropriate security.

And if you want to learn more about this, you'll be hard pressed tot find a better source than the new IBM Redbook Understanding SOA Security: Design and Implementation (Like all Redbooks, it's free.) So go download it and have a good read!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Auntie's messages are a calamity

I continue to be amused, annoyed, upset -- but not surprised -- with warning messages and error messages and warning of all sorts.

They can pop up at the most unexpected times in the oddest places, sometimes where no equipment at all is involved, such as with mistranslated signs in hotels and other places. Some of these can be side-splittingly funny, others might have more serious implications. There are numerous examples, just one of which is Beijing cleans up its sign translations

The field of software (including "firmware" or embedded software in devices such as TV remote controls and microwave ovens) is a fertile spawning ground for this.

There are those signs/messages that do not convey useful information or use poor wording or terminology (such as "Note item not found" ). And there are those that give misleading or even totally incorrect information (such as "The specified agent does not exist" ). Please don't get me wrong: these two examples are not meant to imply that the world of IBM Lotus Notes is worse than any other! It's just that I had them at hand elsewhere in this blog and easy to cross-link to.

In most cases, poor messages like the above are unintentional. Just imagine what you can come up with if you really try, and indeed Aunt Calamity has done this for us: see ghost in the machine.

Go on, go on. Suitably inspired by Auntie's contribution, why not become mischievous (or even miscreant) and start generating your own in this fashion!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rich Internet Applications - State of the Union (recommended reading)

One of my favorite Java experts and commentators Yakov Fain has just published a comparative summary and list of things to be considered with respect to Rich Internet Applications.

He primarily covers the pros and cons of using Java, Flex, WPF (Microsoft's Windows Foundation Platform), plus AJAX -- also touching upon other tools, such as OpenLaszlo, GWT (Google Web Toolkit), and Nexuses.

Read Yakov's nice article over at JDJ:
Rich Internet Applications - State of the Union ... What's your technology choice for implementing RIA?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Which one is "bigger" -- Microsoft or IBM?

There's an IT industry debate that has been going on for a decade or more now, about whether or not "The mainframe is dead."

IBM certainly doesn't think so, and they are making a concerted n effort to get young IT people interested in mainframes and all they can offer. See, for example, these eWEEK reports: IBM to Spend $100 Million on Mainframes and Mainframers Learn New Tricks and Long Live the Mainframe.

It seems that part of Their campaign to rebuild interest in the field involves several new IBM Redbooks. The first of these is Introduction to the New Mainframe: Large-Scale Commercial Computing and here's part of the abstract:

Today, mainframe computers play a central role in the daily operations of most of the world’s largest corporations. While other forms of computing are used in business in various capacities, the mainframe occupies a prominent place in today’s e-business environment. In banking, finance, health care, insurance, utilities, government, and a multitude of other public and private enterprises,
the mainframe computer continues to provide the foundation of large-scale computing to modern business.

The reasons for mainframe use are many, but generally fall into one or more of the following categories: capacity, scalability, integrity and security, availability, access to large amounts of data, system management, and autonomic capabilities. This IBM Redbook is designed for readers who already possess a basic knowledge of mainframe computing, but need a clearer understanding of how these concepts relate to mainframe planning, implementation, and operation.

There are a couple of other associated Redbooks:

IBM has been providing IT products and services to the enterprise for many decades now (for at the very least three decades before I joined them in 1970). And with Service Oriented Architecture being all the rage these days in the enterprise architecture space, here's another IBM Redbook that's well worth reading: SOA Architecture Handbook for z/OS

- - - - -
Well now, it's February 2007 and statements are being made that Windows Vista is "the biggest operating system ever written". Using what metrics, I wonder. (If I were a scalawag, I would say "biggest amount of hype" -- but as a mild-mannered reporter I resile from saying that!)

The z/OS operating system has its roots in OS/360, going way back to 1964, so there's decades of accumulated wisdom and knowledge in the z/OS operating, and in the associated IBM mainframe hardware architecture. In my opinion, for enterprise-scale computing the cruddy 32-bit and 64-bit Intel style hardware architecture are quite inferior, as are the Windows operating systems. I'll agree that Windows is getting better all the time, but so is z/OS (still being tweaked some forty years after its conception).

Another product range that is dear to my heart also comes from IBM: currently it's known as the IBM System i (with its operating system being called i5/OS). Before that it was called the iSeries, and before that the AS/400 (with operating system OS/400). Its progenitor was the IBM System/38 (with operating system call CPF - Control Program Facility), conceived in the early 1970s and announced in 1978. But its essential architecture is still very much alive and well as the System i, with major enhancements being made in each new release.

One thing that really irks me about the Wintel platform is the hiatus between 32-bit and 64-bit modes. I would like to use 64-bit Windows XP on my brand-new dual core AMD desktop system, but I'm simply not prepared to since I would have to go through purgatory due to lack of device drivers, and on top of that doubtless have to buy new 64-bit versions of applications (if they existed, and in many or even most cases they don't). I clearly recall that when the System/38 and later the AS/400 changed their internals to go from 32-bit to 48-bit and later 64-bit mode, customer applications were automatically adjusted by the system to run in the new mode without any application redesign whatsoever and a minimum of fuss. Superb! In comparison, the Wintel approach is quite horrid.

Anyhow, getting back to my original theme: Which one is bigger, Microsoft or IBM? Microsoft certainly is bigger in terms of overall annual software revenue, yet I'd say that IBM is bigger in terms of the considerable range of software products that it offers. Microsoft has a strong research arm and generates lots of patents annually, but I think IBM well and truly beats it with some ground-breaking fundamental physical research (and more patents annually).

To take an area of software where IBM has always been strong, namely database. Even venerable hierarchical database IMS is still in production, but around 1980 IBM released its first commercial relational database DB@, and it has gone from strength to strength. Not to denigrate Microsoft;s current versions of SQL Server (which are very competent indeed), but IBM's latest DB2 9 release (code named "Viper") with deeply integrated native XML support are quite superb. See for example DB2 9 for z/OS Roars to Life and DB2 9 pureXML Guide

I notice that one favorite part of IBM has reached quite a milestone. See the Special report: Celebrating 50 years of the IBM Journals

Since the first publication of the IBM Journal of Research and Development in 1957 and the IBM Systems Journal in 1962, these Journals have provided descriptions and chronicles of many important advances in information technology and related topics ranging from atoms to business solutions. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IBM Journals, this report highlights a selection of significant papers published in the Journals, along with brief commentaries. The Journal editors chose papers which were very highly cited in the technical literature, described technologies of historic significance, or provided an important overview of a field.
This would make a scalawag (not me) ask what Microsoft was doing in 1957 ...

So, which one is "bigger" and how do you define bigness? Who cares, some of you will be thinking, but if you're interested why not have your say!

IBM invites you... Tune Your Servers!

IBM's Redbooks are sometimes of considerable to those who don't use IBM software and hardware, one example of which is TCP/IP Tutorial and Technical Overview

They've just come out with an update for Tuning IBM System x Servers for Performance with the following abstract:
This IBM Redbook describes what you can do to improve and maximize the performance of your business server applications running on IBM System x hardware and either Windows, Linux, or ESX Server operating systems. It describes how to improve the performance of the System x hardware, the operating system, and specific server applications.The book is divided into five parts. Part 1 explains the technology implemented in the major subsystems in System x servers and shows what settings can be selected or adjusted to obtain the best performance. Part 2 describes the performance aspects of the operating systems: Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and VM ware ESX Server.Part 3 introduces the performance monitoring tools that are available to users of System x servers. Part 4 shows you how to analyze your system to find performance bottlenecks and what to do to eliminate them. Part 5 examines specific performance characteristics of specific server applications. his book is targeted at people who configure Intel and AMD processor-based servers running Windows, Linux or ESX Server and seek to maximize performance. Some knowledge of servers is required. Skills in performance tuning are not assumed.

But I'd recommend this Redbook to all and sundry, because of what it indicates in its foreword (emphasis mine):
The genesis for this book began in 1997 when, in response to increasing customer demand for performance information, I decided to write a white paper addressing real-world performance issues. The title of that document was Fundamentals of Server Performance. This document was so well received by customers, business partners and IBM® support personnel that IBM decided to use it as the basis for a new Redbook addressing a multitude of real-world server performance issues. And in 1998 the Redbook Netfinity Performance Tuning with Windows NT 4.0 was published.

Now in its fifth edition,
Tuning IBM Systems x Servers for Performance is by far the most comprehensive and easy to understand performance guide specifically developed for Industry Standard servers. Yes Industry Standard servers, so if you deploy non-IBM servers you can also benefit greatly from this book. The explanations, tips and techniques can show you the way to better understanding server operation and solving even the most complex performance problems for any Windows or Linux®, Intel® or Opteron based server. In addition, this book will enlighten you on some of the special and unique performance optimizations IBM Engineers have introduced into IBM System x™ servers products.

Finally, I would like to sincerely thank the team that wrote this latest version. Thank you for keeping this vital work current, informative and enjoyable to read. I’m certain the universe of server administrators and IT workers who benefit from the vast knowledge included in this volume also share my gratitude.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Anthropology of users of Lotus Notes versus Microsoft Exchange?

Now I know something new: What's a hominid versus hominin versus hominoid?

But there's something that I haven't worked out, so perhaps you can help me decide.

In the taxonomy described in the above article (not overlooking "humanoid"): where should be placed the users of IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino/Workplace/Quickr/etc versus the users of Microsoft's Exchange/Outlook/SharePoint/etc, versus users of Open Source/Linux/etc, versus ...?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Agile documentation - easy but important?

I've just been working on some enhancements to my free Lotus Notes application SDMS - a Simple Document Management System (also available here). Being a good little boy, have been finishing off my efforts by documenting the new features.

And by serendipity I've just been reading a new article by Scott Ambler, and it seems to make sense so I recommend it to you:

Agile Documentation Strategies ... It's not as hard — but more important — than you think.
And while you're at it, read more by Scott Ambler, such as Examining the Big Requirements Up Front (BRUF) Approach in which he argues that
BRUF leads to significant wastage, that an evolutionary approach to development is must less financially risky than serial development, and that you should take an agile approach to requirements.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

IE7 browser share at (mid-February 2007)

Compared with last month's visit pattern -- see IE7 browser share at (mid-January 2007) -- it would appear that over the last week or so Firefox has had a major resurgence, as seen in the following illustration:

(Click to view a larger image)
I suspect that visits to other sites will follow a noticeably different trend, since visitpors to my web site and blogs are probably mainly "technical types" who would favor Firefox more so than general users [who probably are not inclined or can't be bothered to use other than Internet Explorer].