Database truth and wire truth

In a service-oriented world, systems of record will recede into the background. Increasingly we'll work with transitory views of information that applications will receive, process, and transmit in the form of XML packets.
Just because we'll be able to contact the mainframe directly doesn't mean that we should. Layers of intermediation will isolate us from it, and for a reason: to enforce proper separation of concerns. [Full story at]

This week's column began as a thought experiment. In a hypothetical future world of ubiquitous high-bandwidth connectivity, where the network enables data to be both consistent and highly available, why would we bother with the messy complexity of data synchronization? The answer I came up with is that synchronization is not simply a way to overcome network limitations. In the realm of service-oriented architecture, it's also part of an architectural pattern that enables pervasive intermediation.

Over the last year or so I've noticed two interesting and seemingly contradictory uses of the word truth:

1. WinFS architect Quentin Clark: "We [i.e. the WinFS database] are the truth."
2. Indigo architect Don Box: "Message, oh Message / The Truth Is On The Wire / There Is Nothing Else"

Which of these truths do we believe? This conundrum is another of those wave/parfticle dualities which -- like the riddle of synchrony versus asynchrony -- can elicit shockingly contradictory views from world-class experts.

In the case of database truth versus wire truth, though, perhaps we can say that XML messaging is becoming a kind of data synchronization, even as the network carrying those messages is becoming a species of database.

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