(UPDATED Oct 1 – 2020) — A formative experience in my career was the work I did on Web Services conferences for 101 Communications (now, 1105 Communications). A lot of the basic infrastructure for the conference came by way of the company’s acquisition of the SIGS Conference Group, but my colleagues and I had a lot to do with creating the program – I was a conference co-chair — for XML One and its later incarnation: XML Web Services One. XML was a very interesting moment in the evolution of software, although, these days, if it is remembered at all, it is with some disaffection – XML was not a developer favorite. It did pave the way for Service Oriented Architecture, the Semantic Web and JSON technology sub-unit trends, the latter as a straight-out “Storm the XML barricades” opponent. Today, the only evidence of “Web services” is a little cloud operation that uses the name as part of its moniker. As people involved with planning these types of conferences know well, there comes a time when you have to have sit-down brain-storming rap sessions where you try to predict “the next big thing.” XML and Web services set the stage for RSS, a mechanism that some would place as crucial in the ascendance of social media. That ascendance was so incandescent that it altered computing’s role in society to an astounding degree, and has yet to play out completely.
Finding “the next thing” will continue to drive most technology assessments. The lesson from the XML – Web services – SOA – and so forth experience is that sub-units of bounded technologies don’t really point successfully to the future. The trends of technology, just like real life, have an overlapping nature and the triggers for progress come from the surprising Connections* that transpire. Back in the XML Web services day an outlying technology called Grid or Utility computing was preparing to become more influential in the form of cloud technology; and blogging and threads were arising from Web development to forge social media juggernauts Facebook and Twitter. Hello, next big thing.
Here I’d like to note my respect and admiration for the late Mike Bucken, Application Development Trends editor, and the conference chair who brought me along for a great ride. Mike gathered a great group of co-conspirators that included Don Box, Tony Baer, Toufic Boubez, Michael Cusumano, John Waters, Rich Seely, and others. Conferences will continue to be an essential element in high-tech, providing the kind of face-to-face contact one needs to learn a topic fully.
The agendas for those long ago events are a bit hard to find these days. But I’m including a link here to my coverage of a Michael Cusumano keynote and interview. His musings on programming team organization show where DevOps and DataOps in businesses were about 15 years ago. Of course Web Services in the form they took at that time faded away. Oh, except for something called “Amazon Web Services.” Clearly in retrospect, where the technology was going was toward something called “cloud computing” — which Amazon took by storm on a fast train! – Jack Vaughan
* Credit James Burke, author.