Book Review: IT Web Services by Alex Nghiem


Last week, I mentioned that I was reading a book called IT Web Services: A Roadmap for the Future by Alex Nghiem (pronounced "neem"). I've worked my way through it and have some comments.

Nghiem is the President of a consulting company called Blue Samba Solutions. The first five chapters of the book are the requisite introduction to web services. If you already have a good handle on it, you can probably just skim this or even skip it altogether. On the other hand, its well written and it managed to clear up a few cloudy issues for me. What's more, I appreciated getting Nghiem's take on some things. Chapters six through nine are the heart of the book and make it well worth the price.

Chapter Six is entitled "Web Service Networks" and takes the form of a brief introduction to the topic followed by two interviews: one with Craig Denato, the CEO of Grand Central Communications, and the second with David Spencer, the CTO and CEO of Flamenco Networks. Both companies have similar goals: fill some of the holes in web services implementations. Grand Central operates a fee-for-service value-added network for web services and Flamenco sells software that creates a P2P network through proxies installed in-between communicating partners. I found this chapter to be very interesting and informative. I had a better understanding of what these two companies do and what their business model is after reading it that I got from visiting either company's web site.

Chapter Seven is entitled "Web Service Architectural Patterns." I was really looking forward to this chapter and came away slightly disappointed. The material was good, but pretty skinny. Maybe web services just aren't mature enough yet to have developed a significant of patterns. Nghiem discusses four patterns:

  • Native web services
  • Web service proxy
  • Document-centric web services
  • Orchestration web services

I'll probably come back to this topic later in my blog and discuss Nghiem's patterns and solicit others.

Chapter Eight gives a high-level plan with analysis for adopting web services. Much of this is common sense that any good CTO would probably understand, but its still a good check list to review as you begin a web services project.

Chapter Nine discusses software as a service and doesn't really seem to belong until you read the included interview with John Alberg, the VP of Engineering for Employease, an HR ASP. John talks about how they use XML and web services to implement their service.

The rest of the book (another 100 pages) is appendices that cover ebXML, case studies, interviews with web service platform vendors, and a product review of Iona Technologies XMLBus product. A review copy of the product is included on a CD in the book.

Overall, I found the book to be informative---the interviews alone are probably worth the price. The formatting has some errors and there's some diconnectedness leading to a "thrown together in a hurry" feeling, but that doesn't really affect the ability of the book to deliver on the information. I recommend it.