Services that can provide guarantees of dependability, both qualitative and quantitative, will have a better chance of survival in the coming age of calm computing. People have always relied on guarantees in their dealings with one another. The notion of law and the development of legal systems are in many ways attempts to establish sets of expectations people can rely on: when two people sign a contract, they explicitly promise certain guarantees to each other. If they fail to keep those guarantees, the contract will be annulled, and the faulty party will not be dealt with thenceforth. The state of the Web today is similar to societies without contract law: it is immensely useful, but its arbitrariness is becoming an obstacle to the development of more sophisticated forms of use required by a vision of ubiquitously available information. In the Jini community, we should start thinking seriously about how best to facilitate such guarantees for the services we develop.
About the Author
Frank Sommers is founder and CEO of AutoSpaces.com, a startup focusing on bringing Jini technology to the automotive software market. He also serves as vice president of technology at Nowcom Corp., an outsourcing firm based in Los Angeles. He has been programming in Java since 1995, after attending the first public demonstration of the language on the Sun Microsystems campus in November of that year. His interests include parallel and distributed computing, the discovery and representation of knowledge in databases, as well as the philosophical foundations of computing. When not thinking about computers, he composes and plays piano, studies the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, or explores the writings of Aristotle and Ayn Rand. Sommers would like to thank Jungwon Jin, aka Nugu, for her tireless support and unfailing belief.
Read Frank Sommer's complete "Survival of the Fittest Jini Services" series:
For more information on John von Neumann's relevant work, see his article "Probabilistic Logic and the Synthesis of Reliable Organisation from Unreliable Parts." Collected Works, Vol. 5, A.H. Taub, Editor (Pergamon Press, 1961-1963). The article also appears in Automata Studies: Annals of Mathematics Studies, C.E. Shannon and J. McCarthy, Editors (Princeton University Press, 1956). He describes this issue also in "Principles of Large-Scale Computing Machines," Collected Works, Vol. 5, reprinted also in Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 3, (Princeton University Press, July 1981). For a fascinating account of his work on the brain, see The Computer and the Brain, John von Neumann, et al. (Yale University Press, November 2000): http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300084730/javaworld
The Ninja project at Berkeley aims to define a highly robust infrastructure for Web services, using Java. At the core of Ninja is a cluster, which provides high availability and scalability for services: http://ninja.cs.berkeley.edu/