A conversation with Rohit Khare about syndication-oriented architecture

This week’s ITConversations podcast with Rohit Khare focuses on a topic that is near and dear to my heart: syndication. For both of us, that is the real substance of Facebook. Says Rohit:

Imagine there’s an application someday with 35 million users, and the first thing they see every morning is a news feed, and it’ll do a really intelligent job of summarizing what everyone they know has been up to since they last logged in. You wouldn’t have thought, “I need to sign up for a new consumer service that will tell me when people break up or get married or give talks.” And yet here we have this wonderful new phenomenon showing that there is pent-up demand. Now you can come back to the office and say, “Don’t you wish you had an interface like that so all of our field service techs could know what was going on, and be just as collaborative as this is?

So how do we get there? Start by “RSSifying” everything in sight. Then flow all the feeds through a “syndication bus”:

You do in some ways centralize the information flow, but you get the benefit of decentralized awareness — it’s an interesting paradox. If I have one syndication bus that’s responsible for delivering information to all of my users, and everyone in the community, then that same piece of software is in a very good position to detect patterns and emerging trends. If you think about meme trackers that can report, hey, this is a hot story that’s come up in the last few hours, that’s going to be really powerful when it mainstreams.

By way of disclosure, the backstory for this interview begins in 2002 when Rohit — who had co-founded KnowNow in 2000 — gave a great talk at the Emerging Technology on what he was then calling application-layer internetworking (ALIN). (I mentioned it in this InfoWorld column.) Among his other talents, Rohit is a great coiner of sticky buzzphrases and acronyms. Phil Windley, for example, conceded that ALIN was catchier than his own Layer 5 routing for web services.

Then in 2004, I interviewed KnowNow’s Michael Terner and Richard Treadway. The company’s tagline then — Simple Integration Connecting Data, Applications, and People: Business-to-Business, Event-Driven, Loosely-Coupled — was descriptive but decidedly less catchy.

Now Rohit and KnowNow are pitching a new buzzphrase, Syndication-Oriented Architecture, and a new acronym, SynOA. We are admittedly pushing the envelope when it comes to variations on the -OA theme, but I can’t help myself, I like this one for two reasons. First, the idea of syndication needs all the marketing help it can get. We’ve been at this for almost a decade and it hasn’t really caught on in the way it deserves to. Second, it’s just so obviously the right thing on so many levels, one of which happens to be information flow within the enterprise.

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26 thoughts on “A conversation with Rohit Khare about syndication-oriented architecture

  1. > flow all the feeds through a “syndication bus”

    I think this is definitely Architecture Astronaut territory, but good luck with it…

  2. Jon,

    As usual an insightful piece and a good interview. I have long felt that syndication, rather than SOAP/WSDL “web services” would end up becoming the dominant form of a services oriented architecture, largely for the same reason that I think that REST tends over time to prove more popular and robust compared to XML-RPCs – the web is fundamentally a giant, multichannel publishing system and as such the publishing verbs inherent in REST usually work the simplest in setting up interfaces. If you look upon an Atom or RSS feed as being a way of bundling conceptually linked metadata in a universally recognized package, then it can be used to transport any kind of syndicated content which in my experience is usually the most interesting because it is timely, even when the content being referred to isn’t blogs.

    I like the term SynOA, even if it does give a nod to SOA – common syndicated services with simple parametric APIs, and the sky’s the limit as far as the type of applications you can build.

  3. RohitKharewouldbeevenmoreinterestinglisteningtoifhejusteveryonceinawhilesortoftookabreathingpausewhichwouldalsoallowthepoorsodslisteningtoreflectonwhathehasbeen ramblingabout.

    Like, just emulate Jon Udell, or your favorite minister. Have no fear of pauses, they help frame and structure the noise between the pauses.

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