- Keeping track of the state of the conversation between the client and the server
- Choosing to expose services through messaging interfaces (a.k.a. Remote Procedure Calls)
Sustainable Business StrategiesAbandoning the world of software for a moment, let us examine the strategies that facilitate success in the world of business. Experience has shown that short term success is certainly achievable by exclusivity (i.e. by locking customers into some sort of a proprietary business model). However, for achieving any level of sustainability, businesses must, willy-nilly, open up and introduce free choices and embrace diversity.
In order to attain happy equilibrium of a sustainable business growth, one component of the business interaction must be optimized -- conversation. Businesses thrive on open-ended conversation. What that means is that while initially only two privileged parties may begin business conversation, other interested parties should be able to join and participate at any point.
For that to happen successfully, the barriers to entering the stream of conversation must be placed extremely low. In practical terms, anyone interested in joining the conversation should not be expected to learn any arbitrary set of rules, any new language, or any new protocol.
In addition to this fundamental requirement, parties joining the conversation midstream should also be able to easily examine the history. Anyone joining the conversation should be able to immediately gain access to the 'minutes' of all the previous conversations. That way, an interested party could, at their own convenience, examine the minutes and learn about some vital stats of the ongoing business transactions.
These two (the ability to join the conversation at any point in time and the ability to examine what had transpired up until that moment) are the most vital and essential requirements for conducting successful, sustainable business transactions.
Sustainable Business Computing StrategiesWhen it comes to achieving sustainable levels of business computing, the challenges tend to be even greater. Computing infrastructure and practices, that are being placed between various business parties interested in joining the conversation, serve to raise the barriers to entry.
Still, the promise of information technology is to make those barriers even lower than they tend to be for the non-digital business interactions. And in all truthfulness, that really is the true calling of this technology. So, the question then is: what went wrong?
The simplistic answer to the above question is that someone along the lines made a couple of wrong decisions (see the erroneous decisions listed above) and created a complicated situation resulting in businesses being unable to join interesting and potentially profitable conversations that are happening online.
Our job, then, is to remedy this situation, and to bring the technology back to the level where pretty much any interested business party is capable of easily joining the conversation. Not only that, but any party should qualify for easily examining the history of the conversation by replaying the 'minutes' of what had transpired while they were away.
Simplifying the MediumIn the world of information processing, bits and bytes could represent anything. But in the world of business computing, the medium that is of most interest is text. So in most situations, what is of particular business interest is content that is rendered as text.
Of a much lesser significance, but still figuring rather prominently in the world of business computing, are images. Less prominent media types would be audio and video.
So the viable computing platform that would fully facilitate successful business conversations is mostly focused on the content rendered as text. That content should be marked up in order to achieve certain level of semantic order. But the markup shouldn't be blown out of proportions.
Simplifying the ProtocolOnce the medium for exchanging business content is sufficiently simplified, we must make sure that the channels for communicating that content are also fully simplified. Instead of expecting any interested party to learn the intricacies of a foreign language that is unilaterally enforced by the vendor, we must offer a severely restricted list of possible actions that are publicly vetted and extremely non-volatile.
For any resource that the businesses may be interested in, we can safely establish that only four actions would suffice when it comes to maintaining that resource:
- Add resource
- Remove resource
- Modify resource
- Fetch resource
Joining the ConversationWhen an interested party learns about the ongoing business conversation and wants to join in, all it has to do is fetch the state representation of the resource in question. From that point on, the interested party is free to propose any transition of the state of that resource. In addition to that, the interested party is also free to replay the conversation as it had unfolded prior to joining the conversation.
The above scenario is universal, and it applies across the board. Following this model, we can ensure that any business parties will have a successful transition to participating and contributing to the ongoing stream of business conversations.