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Google Wave - World's Sexiest Message Broker

Nov 09, 2011
Glenn Korban

You have to hand it to Google for thinking big.  Well, they're at it again.  The ideas behind Message Oriented Architecture (MOA) have been around for a long time.  The concept of subscribing to a message topic is even older.  Heck, the Observer Pattern dates back to GoF (if not earlier).  But it took Google to think big enough to take these old ideas and make them into something big enough and bold enough to completely reinvent the way we communicate on the internet.  Or so they hope.  Here comes Google Wave, the world's sexiest message broker.

OK, maybe Google Wave is more than just a message broker.  At a very basic level, Google Wave is a communication and collaboration product hoping to replace many of the point-to-point communication tools we use now: email, chat, etc.  In the current way of doing things, I'll send an email to you, then you send it back, then maybe I'll send it back to you again and include a friend or two.  The new model with Google Wave is that each communication thread has been recast as a "wave" (think message topic).  Participants can be added to a wave at any time and receive updates. 

What makes Wave more than just a broker is that the product also maintains the current state and complete history of the thread. When a new participant is added to wave, not only will they receive new updates, but they will be able to read the entire thread, including forks.  This is different from the current email model.  If new participants are added to an email thread over time, then someone replies to an earlier message, they are essentially creating a fork but the new participants won't be included unless re-added to the recipient list.

Google has also souped-up their new broker with protocols and APIs for enabling features like real-time character-by-character updates and algorithms to solve challenges like versioning and conflict resolution.  Google is also in the process of drafting a Federation Protocol, which would allow independent vendors or developers to create their own Wave Service, and allow users to participate in waves across Wave Service boundaries. 

Like Google Maps, Google Wave will have public APIs so that developers can create their extensions (robots and gadgets) or even their own client applications.  Using the API, waves can be embedded in sites, published to a blog, or posted to Twitter.  

I see a future here for the Google Wave Appliance, similar to the Google Search Appliance.  Enterprise IT organizations will soon be procuring the GWA for hosting all of their internal corporate communication and collaboration.  That said, I'm not ready to buy into all of Google's hype.  If we believe everything Google is trying to sell in their demo, Google Wave will soon be replacing our email, instant messaging, wikis, blogs, document management, etc.  The product looks exciting, but I think that's a bit of a stretch.