Jacob Reider ties a commercial (Misys) practice management system to Google calendar to build a distributed medical office schedule.
It's a fascinating example. Is it HIPAA compliant? Probably, though I can't swear to that. Is it reliable -- I'm less sure of that, Google is famous for breaking APIs. It is probably reliable enough for Jacob though, he can always fix it as needed.
Many eons ago, when dinosaur roamed the earth and Gopher was hot, I advocated for building our startup's solutions as an extensible ecosystem. I wasn't thinking web services, I was thinking more photoshop-style plug-ins. We would build things, others could build things, the sum of the ecosystem would be greater than a controlled solution. (I wasn't so foolish as to advocate open standards; even now the closest thing to that, the HL-7 RIM 3.0 spec, is a decade away from being robust.)
I got exactly nowhere with my proposal. The startup sold for a decent price, so I was probably wrong -- most startups simply fail. In a broader sense, however, I do believe in the original vision. There are win-win solutions in the universe.
I don't, however, buy Jacob's more radical proposal that one can craft an entire robust solution from off-the-shelf parts. It's the old probability curse. Building a 98% reliable solution from x integrating parts requires (1- x*y*z...) reliability from each component. That's hard to achieve even in a controlled web services architecture. It's worth remembering that even Gmail is not all that reliable -- there are times it's slow or even unavailable. We are ok with that because we can tolerate some offtime on our email. Gmail is only one controlled system.
Of course I've been wrong before ...
2/12/07: Jacob replies. Alas, no comments on his blog so I can't say hello that way. Really, the wrestler wasn't all bad! He was kind of a weird libertarian populist ...