Thursday, March 17, 2005

I've heard the term crossing boundaries in a couple of different Web Services sessions so far and it seems that this term "cross boundaries" needs to have some context applied. Web Services help us to cross many boundaries, such as geography, application, business and even legal. Let's look at each of these in more detail:

  • Geographic boundaries: The Web Services model allows us to easily communicate across machine boundaries and land boundaries. The more interesting one here is how easily we can now cross land boundaries when those boundaries are with countries with whom spoken communications are extremely complex and may require human translators.
  • Application boundaries: This is probably the most commonly held view of the types of boundaries that need to be cross with Web Services. Web Services can be used to allow one application to pass data to another application regardless of the receiver's hardware platform or application architecture.
  • Business boundaries: Often times crossing a business boundary can be more difficult than passing across a geographic or application boundary. Businesses are very conservative about allowing data to pass in or out of its domain; even across departments. There are good security reasons for controlling this, but politics play just as important role as security for definition of these boundaries. Web Services allows each business entity to create well-known interfaces for passing data in and out.
  • Legal boundaries: Government agencies best represent this class of boundaries. Moving data between different government's customs departments for faster processing of transporting goods or, as is the case within the US, passing data between intelligence agencies can be construed as unconstitutional. Web Services are now being accepted as an acceptable means for moving data across these legal boundaries.
There's enough meat here to write a few chapters in a book about SOA, but it seem like a good blog entry as long as I summed the issues quickly.

11:00 AM

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If your software is going to be crossing boundaries -- especially international or major cultural ones -- go read "Mapping Security" by Tom Patterson and Scott Gleeson. Very good discussions in there about cultural blinders, provincialism, and suchlike. Also good security tips.

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