Tweedledum, Tweedledee, and active intermediaries

The nascent Web services industry has so far focused mainly on the technical implications of these active intermediaries. They do make it vastly easier to integrate systems that pass around packets of self-describing data. But the reasons for this go beyond the regularity of XML data and the ubiquity of tools that can parse, search, and transform it. XML data flows fundamentally alter the political landscape of IT, shifting the locus of control away from the service endpoints and into the fabric of the network itself.

Closed systems that use proprietary APIs and speak binary protocols are a recipe for finger-pointing. "I can't adjust the discount until Tweedledum upgrades the purchasing module,", says Tweedledee. "Contrariwise," says Tweedledee, "I don't control that logic. My hands are tied."

We've all been on both sides of this dispute, with no Alice to point out that we are only fighting over a rattle. Web services, however, can take us through the looking glass, ending the blame games to reveal the truth.

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See also Phil Windley's Pipelining to connect IT infrastructure, in which he sums up what he learned while evaluating Sonic ESB, Grand Central, and Confluent.

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