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RE: Stranger in a Strange Land

From: Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler) <RogerCutler@ChevronTexaco.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 07:27:21 -0500
Message-ID: <7FCB5A9F010AAE419A79A54B44F3718E026EF5CB@bocnte2k3.boc.chevrontexaco.net>
To: "Burdett, David" <david.burdett@commerceone.com>, www-ws-arch@w3.org
Good analysis.  Thank you.
I hope that this and some of the other good answers can be harvested, as
Dave Orchard suggests.
-----Original Message-----
From: Burdett, David [mailto:david.burdett@commerceone.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 7:54 PM
To: Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler); www-ws-arch@w3.org
Subject: RE: Stranger in a Strange Land

I can't resist replying to this, and I will probably regret doing it,
but here goes ...
Let's start with a question ... why does the USPS like envelopes with
addresses on them in a standard place.
The answer (I guess) is so that they can more easily offer a lower cost
postal delivery service to anyone who complies with their envelope
standard. If there was no standard envelope format, then they would have
to do more work which would cost more - it's the usual "standards lead
to lower costs" argument.
Let's also face it we have envelopes already on the web, e.g. for HTTP
and SMTP, people find them useful but they only contain an address (e.g.
a URL) and not much else.
So perhaps the real question is what reason is there to use a SOAP
envelope over and above their simpler HTTP or SMTP equivalents?
I think there is only one reason and its the same reason as for the
USPS, i.e. it enables (or perhaps more accurately will enable) a lower
cost delivery service for electronic message.
Time for another a question. Why do FedEx and UPS exist and why can't
they just use the same envelope as the USPS or no envelope at all.
Again the answer is that for FedEx and UPS exist because they offer
additional services at a reasonable cost. They each have standard
envelopes as they need additional information and putting that
information on the envelope in a standard way makes it easier for them
to offer the additional services at a lower cost - just like the USPS
So what things could go in the SOAP envelope that allows additional
value-added services to be provided at lower cost through the use of
standard infrastructure. The list I can think of includes:
1. Security - you can put a digital signature in there to secure the
whole message
2. Reliable Delivery, you can use the headers for a RM protocol in there
so that the application need not be bothered to do the same
3. Conversation tracking. By using ids on a conversation you can have
standard software that routes where a message goes to when it is
received - again the application need not bother
4. Choreogrphy checking, so that you can check that the sequence of
messages in a business transaction are being followed correctly.
OK you don't have to use SOAP for this, but it exists and, I think,
meets the needs described above quite nicely so why bother inventing
anything else.
Right now we are designing: a) the equivalent of the FedEx and the UPS
enevelopes, and b) the infrastructure required to use them for a good
But I can *exactly* see why people say, I don't need envelopes now,
since the infrastructure hasn't been built out so the value is not there
for people to see and use.
... but I bet that when it is built out, people will use it because it
provides value, for exactly the same reasons that people use FedEx and
UPS and their standardized envelope formats today.
My $0.02c

	-----Original Message-----
	From: Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler)
	Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 4:54 PM
	To: www-ws-arch@w3.org
	Subject: Stranger in a Strange Land

	Once again I feel like I am torn between different universes.
It would be a lot easier for me, and certainly more comfortable, if I
spent my all my time in a single environment where everyone comfortably
accepts the same assumptions and values.

	OK, let's be more specific.  I have learned that a company which
I think is much larger than any represented in the W3C has forced
another company that I think is larger than any in the W3C to accept XML
payloads (lots of them) totally without envelopes.  "I don't need no
stinking SOAP".  Moreover, I find that many small to medium sized
companies are objecting to the expense of creating envelopes that they
feel do not benefit them, and also wish to send bare XML payloads.  A
very large company which has implemented an XXXX standard with envelopes
(which we have also implemented) has subsequently implemented an
XXXX-lite -- which is just the body without any envelope whatsoever.
Signing and so on, of course, are possible in this scenario.  Again, "We
don't need no stinkin SOAP".

	I find also that a company that is trying to make a business out
of collecting and routing business transactions has found itself under
increasing pressure from the market and its clients not to use
envelopes.  They think that envelopes are very good things -- but they
are moving toward offering services that are envolope-free.

	So I ask, "What is the benefit of the envelopes"?  I ask people
in my company who have implemented a business transaction project
including envelopes and they tell me that envelopes are very good and
very forward looking -- they should be very useful for creating supply
chain processes and keeping track of what transactions have occurred,
not to mention dealing with complex routing situations -- but in fact
they have not really done very much with the envelopes.  Well, exactly
what HAVE they done?  Well, they have made them and received them.  And
I infer that they have felt virtuous in the process.  Well, maybe they
have looked at some statistics based on the envelopes from the
middleware a few times, and they feel good that they have been able to
purchase middleware products based on the envelopes.  Perhaps this has
saved development effort.

	I ask other people what the benefit is of envelopes, and I
receive no answer that indicates to me any benefit whatsoever to a small
to medium sized company that does not have elaborate and expensive
middleware systems.  Envelopes seem to make it easy for expensive
middleware in big companies to keep track of things (although as far as
I can tell most of the big companies are not really exploiting this for
much) -- but for the little guys they appear to be pretty much something
that is being forced on them by the big guys.

	Except that the biggest of the big guys seems to be saying that
they don't need no stinkin envelopes. 

	I think there is something wrong here, folks.  It seems to me
that we may be seeing the beginnings of a market rebellion.  It would
really, really be helpful to me if someone could remind me why envolopes
are so great.  I sort of have forgotten, as has everyone else I have
been talking to around here.  Just about everybody seems to agree that
they are absolutely necessary -- but they all seem to have forgotten
exactly why.

	I don't have a good feeling about this, folks. 
Received on Thursday, 17 April 2003 08:27:46 UTC

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