Today we finished our week long workshop with the Hursley guys. I really feel we got a good grip on the capabilities of the WSRR. Yesterday I showered praise on the product, so today, being a Libra, I will rant a bit about some drawbacks, before I end on a more positive note.
My main concern with the product is that it still pretty raw. A lot of the configuring goes on in XML and properties files, and functionality is tweaked using Java plug-ins. This is both a strength and a weakness. A strength, because it is flexible and standards based. A weakness, because it makes it really easy to get lost in all the config files. I’m not sure it is a big problem for our customers – after all, that’s why they hire consultants 🙂 . But I sure would love some tooling that could simplify some of the more routine tasks, such as customizing the navigation tree.
But at the end of the day (which it literally is – I’m awaiting a late night flight to Finland), I feel very positive about the possibilities with this product. A different story is the one about the learning curve for both us and our customers when it comes to implement governance from a people’s perspective. I think I’ve quoted this before, but i do it again, because it illustrates the core problem: Everybody wants governance, but no one wants to be governed. We will have to strike a balance with our customers between too much procedural rigor and too little. Most will likely come from a history of no governance at all, so we will have to find ways to introduce sufficient, yet pragmatic processes, especially when we start using tools to enforce procedural compliance. This will require other skills than the purely technical ones required to install and configure WSRR. It will be a most exciting journey!
My hope is that we will soon have a first version of Baseline implemented for WSRR – I’ll keep you updated in this space.
I’m in the middle of a very stimulating and uplifting exercise together with some colleagues an two brilliant chaps from IBM’s Hursley Lab. We started the week with a 2 day crash course of the product. Yesterday was spent modeling the objects we want to put into WSRR to implement the Baseline Service Documentation model. In preparation for this we did some homework around updating our existing model to better reflect the experience we’ve had with trying to build truly reusable services, something that the old model only partly supported. Also, we wanted to align us more clearly to WSDL’s, something which is necessary if we want to play with WSRR, since all it understands out of the box is WSDL.
Today we finally started putting the pieces together. We learned about Protégé, a free tool to to edit ontologies. Within a couple of hours, we had a first draft of an OWL-file (defining our model, with objects and relationships). Once imported into WSRR, magical things started to happen. Stuff we’ve been dreaming of, but have not been able to realize, include:
- Automatic dependency analysis, meaning that we can instantly ask things like “If we bring down this machine, what services and service consumers are affected?”
- Automatic name generation, meaning that we can enforce our naming conventions much better than before
- Automatic GUI generation based on the model, complete with links to add related object, so, for example, while creating a Service, we automatically get a link to add Operations
We’ve also seen the relative ease by which you can create java plug-ins to enhance the out-of-the-box functionality of WSRR.
It does look really promising so far! Check back soon, I’ll wrap this up with some more thoughts.
It is quite clear from recent months’ events that our customer base is maturing rapidly toward SOA and BPM. Stuff like WSRR and WPS have been around for a couple of years, yet interest from customers have been lukewarm at best. No real business has been generated, and I must admit I despaired a little a while back, thinking that we would never get the chance to get real SOA dirt under our fingernails.
Well, not any more. We have several customers already in possession of WSRR and DataPower. Many are on the verge of embarking on the BPM-track with WPS. Excitement is in the air, and I really can’t recall a time in Zystems’ history where opportunity leaped at us quite like this. Only problem is to keep up with the challenges of absorbing all this.
Our immediate challenge right now is to investigate the extent to which our Baseline Concept model could serve as the core of a WSRR ontology. This would finally land us with a platform that could leverage all the benefits our model could bring in terms of things like dependency tracing. The farthest we’ve got in this area is our Wiki-based Baseline Service Registry, but it is based on a proprietary product (Confluence from Atlassian) and a bit cumbersome to work with. Having WSRR host this model is very exciting prospect indeed for Mr Baseline!
Keep checking back, I’ll report on our contingent progress on this.