Opinion: Users applying data and developers deploying services both create crucial management needs.
It sure would be easier to keep corporate information assets secure
if people didnt actually try to use them. Thats an ancient paradox,
of course, but lately its taken on another dimension: It sure would be
easier to keep a service-oriented architecture coherent if developers
didnt keep creating and composing new services into innovative
applications. Same game, just different pieces moving around the board.
Clumsy handling of enterprise dataand, in particular, invisible
but crucial metadatacan prove costly, as pharmaceutical maker Merck
& Co. will be forcibly reminded in the lawsuit whose retrial
gets under way this week
. The companys defense of the safety of
its arthritis medication, Vioxx, was seriously compromised when
document editing tags revealed that a
table of data on heart-related complications had been deleted
days before a
journal article was submitted
to The New England Journal of
Similarly, embedded document metadata led to unintended
, late last year, of the process of developing White
House statements concerning the war in Iraqperhaps inspiring National
Security Agency guidance
on document redaction at the end of last
month. Fine with me, I didnt really want to repeat the same Stupid Tech
topic in our year-end issue next December.
Im neither praising nor condemning either Merck or the White House
for the positions they take or for the manner in which they support
their positions: Im merely holding them up as cautionary examples that
your own data, carelessly handled, can undercut your own efforts at
crafting a competitive strategyand Ive previously noted that client-level
are available to assist individual users in noting and (one
hopes) addressing the inclusion of metadata that shouldnt remain in
as they head out to make their way in the world.
updated to Version 2 last June, makes it hard not to notice that your
document is bearing unintended baggage. The company expands on its
metadata protection offerings with this weeks announcement of its Workshare
Protect Enterprise Suite
, adding key components for network-level
scrutiny and automated policy-based protectionbecause
without automation are science projects
, not enterprise solutions.
Meanwhile, developers face similar issues of channeling their
creative energy in cooperative directions as they package a growing fraction of their
work as services rather than as monolithic applications. The disclosed
interfaces and exposed network links of services make it almost a
mathematical certainty that services
will create new security issues
, although not
necessarily a net increase
in vulnerabilities. But there are
people whove been drinking the services Kool-Aid for a while now
without getting poisoned by the stuff, like Bob Prevenslik, director of
Enabling Services at travel giant Sabre
"We see Web services as a key enabler; modifying applications allows us
to shuffle content without changing interface," he told me in a
conversation late last week.
"Were supporting up to five versions of a service right now,"
Prevenslik added, "with the same service able to go to a mainframe or
to another platform." He had previously been using repository
technology from Flashline
to manage internal development efforts: Sabre staff worked with
Flashline to extend that outward as a
foundation for externally facing services
, "and it worked," he told
me, adding, "Flashline hadnt thought about doing it either, but they
now promote that as a capability of their latest version
Its pretty cool."
What happens if services dont get a comprehensive management
environment, one that puts them into the larger context of the
enterprise application portfolio? You get "just another silo," said
Flashline CEO Charles Stack during a conversation that we had last
week, adding, "Companies wont be successful unless the SOA is tied to
the enterprise architecture and the core business processes." The
company offers further thoughts on the A
in its white paper, Webcast and other forms.
The big picture here is that developers are becoming users of
services, and users are becoming developers of content: Both need
convenience to achieve productivity, both crave access to information
assets, and both can do as much harm as good if given everything they
want without the additional support of infrastructure that they may not
realize they need.
Tell me about the infrastructure that youre building, or that you
wish you could buy, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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