Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Network is the platform is the os is the app is the database is the...

As I sit there sipping my coffee in Mascone auditorium, I can't help wondering what John Chambers is doing at Oracle conference. Sure they both use each others' technology and probably sell loads of each other's gear, but a keynote? I'm dying to know which stars are aligned what way to make that happen.

The lights begin to flash wildly and the music starts to blare ending the crescendo with big bold Oracle logo right at the center and everywhere else. John appers, declares his allegiance to Oracle
partnership and jumps right into "making you uncomfortable about the future." He is making his point well about convergence of devices, hyper-personalization (my coinage for individuality of connectivity and content to max); but I'm still scratching my head -- Other execs from likes of Motorola are happy to give a sound bite in a 30 second video touting Oracle technology, but what makes John drive up all the way to SF from San Jose?

Halfway through the presentation, a pattern begins to emerge. Even though traditionally, Cisco has been a layer 2 to 4 (of OSI model) vendor, now things start to look more attractive on layer 7
(Application) level. During the demo, Cisco phones are sporting ball park e-tickets and discount coupons, Cisco video conferencing is helping solve crime on new TV series Vanished. The ubiquitous IP network (Cisco's traditonal playground) is of course making that happen, but it is taking the back seat in John's messaging. Hmmm... it's no longer just about the network.

On a slide animation, technical buzzwords rapidly begin fall off from application and OS layers down to the IP layer. Network is the next platform -- John declares and Cisco will take the leadership in making it happen (of
course). Essentially, what John was proclaiming that now Cisco also wants to be a serious player in application layer space. That should heat up the competition and thus it would be good for technology consumers. So what would it take for Cisco to make it happen. Throughout the glitzy presentation, John is alluding to benefits, we don't yet see the moving parts under the hood. And then I see it. On the slide showing top 5 priorities for Cisco, SOA makes its appearance! Now there is a big turning point for a technology.

We started with the application vendors like Microsoft, IBM, and Ariba evangelizing the technology, middleware vendors like Oracle and Tibco picking it up, through in-house development or acquisition or both, and now networking vendors are making it as part of their mainstream strategy.

Future should be good for SOA professionals. Viva SOA!