SOA Talk

August 6, 2009  3:46 AM

IBM set to buy SPSS

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

UPDATED – IBM’s recent move to purchase SPSS has been pegged as an attempt to improve its analytical software portfolio. It is that.

But like other IBM purchases, it is also about installed base. Among a host of pretenders, SPSS is a real software company–but it became a real software company by delivering and successfully updating products customer boughts over many years.

It did just enough research and development (and acquisitions) over the years to have a cool story now that analytical software is hot. It also stuck to its knitting over many years when coolness advisors would have led it into relational data stores, OLTP, and so on.

SPSS is a good fit for IBM, which continues to quietly pack up a lot of software companies that are older than startups, chock full of customers, and open to new technology and, in many cases, technology standards. Count Telelogic and ILOG among them. These acquisitions further thin out the ranks of mid-tier software companies–ones that are neither big nor small. Some days it seems like the future of software companies is one of the very big and the very small.

August 6, 2009  3:32 AM


Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Last month we talked with SPSS. The company is in the news at the moment, as IBM has launched a $1-billion-plus bid to buy the firm.

When we spoke, the topic was XML standards for analyzing data. This is one of the places where SPSS is clearly in the vanguard.

SPSS reps discussed Version 4.0 of the Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) for statistical and data mining models from the Data Mining Group (DMG). The company is incorporating PMML V.4.0 into upcoming versions of its PASW Modeler (formerly Clementine) data mining workbench and PASW Statistics (formerly SPSS Statistics).

PMML Version 4.0 is an amazing example of what XML (the “X,” recall, is for “extensible”) can do. The newly released version of PMML offers support for time series models, support for multiple models (both segmented models and ensembles of models), and improved preprocessing of data. Preprocessing of data here refers primarily to “outliers,” those dubious pieces of data that work for Malcom Gladwell  but which tend to muck up the usual works of statistical analysis.

Going forward, said Jing Shyr, SVP & Chief Statistician at SPSS Inc., PMML will allow corporations to more readily embed statistical models into operational systems that enhance business processes. Shyr takes her role as chief SPSS statistician seriously, but has some fun. “If any number looks suspicious, it’s my fault,” she told us.

What does the Data Mining Group’s Bob Grossman think of the latest moves with PMLL, and how these might play out in typical corporations? “With Version 4.0, PMML now handles all of the common use cases that occur when deploying analytic models in practice,” Grossman said in a prepared statement.

We asked for more and he responded via email. His response: “PMML calls multiple models, which include segmented models and ensembles of models.  After that the most important new features in PMML are improved support for preprocessing data and for time series data.”

August 4, 2009  6:36 PM

A letter from Cloud Camp

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

By Rob Barry

CloudCamp in Boston last week was clear evidence that enterprises are starting to take a serious look at cloud computing. Given, a lot of them are looking at cloud the way marketers look at social media. There’s a strong sense it will before long be a dominant force in how business is done online. But just how? Well that’s where people are still scratching their heads.

A number of vendors lined up to give their take on what’s important in the cloud. EMC said its Atmos product provides a scalable “internal cloud,” Signiant talked about using the cloud to move massive amounts of digital media, and Microsoft prepared 25 slides for a 5 minute talk on Azure.

Stories were similar: a CIO said  IT has to cut costs and cloud’s technology on-demand approach might be an avenue. Companies are exploring the possibilities but seem timid due to the security issues inherent in sharing databases with others.

One highlight was sitting in a room of architects and consultants discussing their thoughts on the cloud. These folks all flocked together to heatedly discuss how cloud is decreasing the need for IT operational infrastructure but, at the same time, causes businesses to “subscribe” to much of their technology.

July 22, 2009  5:14 PM

Google App Engine asks developers to think cloud

Mike Pontacoloni Profile: Mpontacoloni


By Mike Pontacoloni

Google App Engine is a straightforward example of cloud computing: You create an application, but your storage, bandwidth, and hosting needs are provided by Google’s computers, not yours. Such simplicity is only apparent on paper, though. Making the move from traditional IT development to cloud-based development comes with challenges. 

Continued »

July 20, 2009  6:44 PM

Grid computing, cloud computing, SOA and application development

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

By Jack Vaughan

Cloud computing is not that much different than grid computing. It is rather like a subset of grid, but that is misleading because its scale is much more massive than grid. A lot has happened in the more or less 10 years since grid computing had its day in the sun, and a lot of what happened – blade servers and virtualization, for example – has set the stage for something new. So, yes, cloud is new and different.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is that whole notion that services set the stage for the cloud too. If new cloud architects are to succeed, they won’t use kluged and misbegotten objects. They will use services. The SOA community knows how difficult it can be to form appropriately sized services, and so can help inform cloud architecture going forward.

SearchSOA recently began work with a sister site,, to try to uncover the path of cloud application development. It has been interesting. We discovered that data architectures, especially, are up for grabs as people try things out on the cloud. Azure from Microsoft is a case in point. At one juncture, REST was the whole story for Microsoft data in the cloud, but, as the company moved closer to roll out, it made sure that established SQL scheme could be supported too. The theme for cloud these days is ‘set a course.’ Or maybe ‘set a course and do a course correction.’

July 13, 2009  8:32 PM

Cloud: Re-make, re-model, or leave as-is?

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

The upsurge in cloud computing presents development teams with new challenges and opportunities. There is a school of thought maintaining that the best bet is to upload applications as-is to the cloud, doing as little rework as possible. Yet another school contends that applications should be dramatically recast if they are to exploit cloud architecture to full advantage. Continued »

July 8, 2009  3:05 AM

Low-latency ESB solution relies on high-powered hardware

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Content networking appliance maker Solace Systems pressed the case for its hardware approach to middleware with a recent high-speed message caching update for its Unified Messaging Platform. Think of it as an ESB accelerator! Continued »

July 7, 2009  1:26 PM

A mobile developer’s tale: iPhone, therefore I am

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Mobile applications have piqued the interest of developers. First, the iPhone redefined what a phone was: it looked a lot like a Web browser, really. Then, Apple opened an iPhone App store that promised developers an opportunity to write and sell application to a new mass audience. What self-respecting developer would not dream of writing a killer app at night, cashing in, and sailing the world in a yacht bought with mobile lucre? Continued »

July 1, 2009  1:15 AM

Appian upgrades links to SharePoint, makes portals ‘actionable’

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Interest in enterprise mash-ups should not entirely dim interest in enterprise portals, should it? They may blend. They both gather disparage system data into a single view. One can adjudge that mash-ups will get more robust, and portals will get more loosely coupled and flexible, if history is a guide.  Meanwhile, BPM is moving up in the mix. An Appian-SharePoint integration is a case in point. Continued »

June 24, 2009  10:31 PM

What are the principles of code generation?

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

By Rob Barry, News Writer

What can help code generation succeed? Says Skyway’s Jack Kennedy,  code generation tools must offer options for post-generation changes. They must support round tripping, intelligent merging, user editable dependency injections, and more, he says. Check it out.

Also check out the discussion of Kennedy’s Top 10 principles for code generation  on There is good give and take there.

While useful in getting large amounts of work done in a relatively short time, code generation does have its issues. It is sometimes far from popular with the rank-and-file developer corps. Some argue that this practice just reassigns a bulk of the human workload from writing code to configuring. What do you think?

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