The platform is cross platform

I was at the Network Applications Consortium (NAC) conference in Houston a few weeks ago and got to hear from some interesting people from both the vendor and enterprise-customer worlds. The discussion was anchored by a bunch of specific use cases prepared by the organizers. For those who don't know NAC, it is a group that theorizes identity and infrastructure issues from the customers’ point of view – without the usual analyst or vendor optics – and thus has always fascinated me.

Prior to Houston, I had spent the last year working really hard to figure out what Web Services mean for identity – and visa versa. I've concentrated completely on technology issues, not really paying attention to the way various parties have been crafting their messages and positioning their work.

So it was very interesting to hear, for example, how IBM presented the relationship between Web Services, Java and J2EE. I'm not an expert in this area, but got the impression that for IBM, Java, J2EE and their tool sets are a “one environment everywhere” cross-platform solution – with the “elasticising property” (or should I say safety valve) that if one of your partners is eccentric enough not to use the proposed solution, you can still contact ’em through Web Services.

Which was an approach fairly different from – but not incompatible with – my view of things going in to the meeting: that Web Services in and of themselves represent a new interoperable platform – albeit one which will have various incarnations (sorry for the understatement). I guess if I am right, IBM has an “interoperable platform” on top of an “interoperable platform” – something rife with possibilities for those like me who love ‘meta’ – if not also a possible candidate for investigation by the Department of Redundancy Department.

This thought led me into a satisfyingly recusive meditative tailspin, interupted by a new report from the Burton Group called “J2EE: A Standard In Jeopardy” (not apparently open source) and discussed by Jamie Lewis today. It's all fascinating. But based on nuances which are a little over my head.

You see, I have to admit that I'm just too much of a programmer dude to believe for even one second that all problems should or can be solved through a single computer language – even if it begins with the letter “J”. I must need a bios refresh – I can't shake the memory that different languages lend themselves to different problems – C#, C++, VB, Jscript, Cobol, Small Talk, Perl, Pascal, Phyton, Oberon, APL, Haskell, Mercury, Scheme, CAML and OZ – you know, that kind of thing. I mean, if the world is a matrix, how can we live without APL?

My dream incarnation of the new platform would not limit our ability to solve problems – it would push every boundary to the limit.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.