Cover by Savas Parastatidis, Jim Webber, Ian Robinson

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Selling the Web

It’s perhaps a little disappointing that the Web still needs to be sold to stakeholders, but if we want to build web solutions it’s a necessary evil. There’s a grain of truth to the anecdote that IT purchasing decisions are rarely based on technical merit. Indeed, some middleware vendors have every reason to fear commoditization, and will raise concerns about any technology that jeopardizes their relevance. They’re good at getting that message across to management too.

If you want to build successful web-based systems, you first have to sell the Web to your managers. Managers have different drivers from technologists, and more than anything they want to reduce the risk of their projects going off the rails (it makes them look bad).

Patiently explaining to a typical IT manager why all the “computer science stuff” is important and shouldn’t be hidden won’t win them over. Telling them that the Web is where all systems are converging won’t win them over. The mindset of middleware encapsulating and solving hard information engineering problems is hard to shift.

Fortunately, IT managers aren’t (typically) foolish. And while they’ll glaze over at any deeply technical reasons why the Web is a great software platform, they intuitively understand two factors in software delivery: cost and risk.

Cost

Anecdotally, the Web wins out on cost versus any other approach. Given the wide availability of free servers and sophisticated development frameworks, it’s hard to imagine a scenario ...

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