A while ago I submitted a proposal for a talk entitled “Does Web 2.0 Herald The End Of In-House Development And Provision Of IT Services?” to The Shock of the Old 2007: Shock of the Social conference. The proposal was accepted, but by the time I had received confirmation, other commitments had cropped up. Fortunately this topic is of interest to my colleague Paul Walk and, as he has described in his blog, Paul is very keen to receive input from readers of his blog about his talk.
This is an approach I’ve adopted recently, as I described in a posting on Web 2.0: What Can It Offer the Research Community. On that occasion, I received some useful examples of use of Web 2.0 technologies in a research context. And yesterday when I gave the presentation I encouraged the participants to visit the posting and, if they felt motivated, to engage in discussions and debate themselves. I coined the term ‘blended blogging‘ to describe the process of using a blog to inform the production of slides for a presentation and to allow the blog post to provide a channel for discussions afterwards.
Returning to Paul’s presentation at the “Shock of the Old 2007: Shock of the Social” conference, the title of the talk is intentionally controversial, intended to challenge conventional thinking regarding software development. This was an issue I raised recently with my posting on Dapper – Web Mashup Development For All?
Clearly, Web 2.0 won’t herald the end of in-house software development. But to what extent does it challenge the norms of software development? At one stage there might may have been a belief in some quarters (perhaps within further education colleges, for example) that institutions didn’t have the expertise or resources to engage in software development, and needed to purchase commercial off-the-shelf software. However many institutions are now reaping the benefits which development using open source software within an open source community environment can provide.
But where do Web 2.0 services fit in with this approach? And with a model of ‘software as a service’ does it really matter how the software was produced? Will making use of open source software be the equivalent of purchasing electricity from green providers – one might feel good about this, but it is just one of the factors to consider when seeking a solution for one’s needs?
And what about the provision of IT services? Do institutions need to do this? And could we see the debates that one still encounters within IT services over whether, for example, to migrate email from an open source environment to a Microsoft platform (or vice versa) being made redundant by institutions simply renting email services from a company which gains benefits of scale (perhaps Google, for example)? Or, as Slideshare have done, purchase storage capacity from Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service)?
Quite clearly there are many issues which need to be addressed. But rather than getting bogged down in the details, what are the merits of such an approach? And what are the major concerns?