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August 31, 2006


Robert Connely

Thanks much for the posting on this subject - you've provided a great explaination of this exciting new model.

I especially appreciate the Archectural Caveats - we constantly remind ourselves not to to view agents as a hammer and all problems as a nail. The likely scenario I believe will play out is that agents will not replace SOA, C/S, Web or any previous architectural approaches - but will live comfortably along side these models, doing tasks particularly well suited for agents.

For example, in a mission-critical enterprise system, SOA and C/S applications may be the best bet...if remotely accessing information is the need, the Web is a great approach...but if collaborating across a disconnected community, automating the secure exchange of information, and achieving a level of interoperability between disparate applications is the goal - agent architectures are the best approach we've seen.

I hope you don't mind if we point people to your blog to get a better idea of what we do!


Hi Robert,

What you say is totally in keeping with Marshall McLuhan's view of media - old media never die, they just become the content of the new media. In your case, you are encapsulating C/S applications (some that do exist and others that should exist) inside the agent architecture. SOA does the same thing, but is really just a variation on the C/S paradigm - a variation on remote procedure calls, which were commonplace on IBM mainframes as early as the 1960's.

I agree with your triage. Unfortunately a lot of the C/S vendors don't get it yet. In my paper I talked a lot about the need for intermittent connectivity - applications that do best when connected to the grid, but that can operate without connectivity, at least for a time, just as well (or at least "good enough") as when they are connected. With mission-critical apps moving from the desktop to the laptop, palmtop/PDA, and even SmartPhones, it's not acceptable for the app to fail when the wireless LAN or WAN is unavailable.

Even wired networks go down at times, so it's not like this is a new issue - it's just one to which the app developers often appear to be blind.

I gotta go - yes, refer anyone you like here, the more the merrier. I'm going to be writing more about agent architectures and other emergent meta-technologies in days to come.

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