When services go wrong

Third-party billing services should be as fungible as disk drives, and like disk drives, nobody should have to depend on a single source for them. Natural selection will tend to weed out those service providers who require their service consumers to wield heavy debugging artillery.

But it's still the early days of SOA, and multiple sourcing isn't always an option. Even when there are multiple sources for general-purpose services, there will always be special cases. When a strategic partnership is unique, the service relationship that supports it must likewise be unique.

Like it or not, we'll always have to look under SOA's hood from time to time. The good news is that XML is the diagnostician's best friend. [Full story at InfoWorld.com]

Debugging web services was a topic that provoked two rather different conversations at our two recent SOA forums. In today's podcast I've pulled together excerpts from those two sessions. In the first, you'll hear Cape Clear's Annrai O'Toole, Mindreef's Tim Ewald, Oracle's Edwin Khodabakchian, and Microsoft's John Shewchuk respond to this impassioned plea from a guy in the audience:

These services are deployed, they're deployed all the time. I'm just a customer, I'm not even a vendor at this forum, and I've got property settlement services, I've got banks ordering products from me, I'm going to thousands of vendors, it's all web services, and there are failure modes all the time, and Tim [Ewald] is on the money. There is an opportunity here for one of you guys to jump on this and figure out how to put your arms around this, because today it's somebody calling me telling me 'Hey, your server is down,' or I'm calling somebody else, and it's a mess.

In the second segment, you'll hear Tim Ewald, Annrai O'Toole, Phil Windley, Oracle's Manas Deb, and Microsoft's Dino Chiesa debating the same set of issues. In this case, however, an attendee reacted very differently:

I don't think any technology will be the debugger for a composite application. When I think of a service, I'm thinking of value behind the service. It's not going to be altruism, us exposing services with our partners, we're going to be making services available for a fee. Is it safe to say that the market will be the ultimate debugger? If your service craps out and my application goes down, I'm going to go to his service.

In this week's column (and in the companion podcast) I sympathize with this notion. But until and unless the services we rely on are exposed to the forces of natural selection, we'll sometimes need to know more about services than we should, and we'll appreciate tools and environments that help us do that.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/06/07.html#a1245