Mashup vs. SOA app: what's the difference?

SOA is formal; mashups are guerilla-style

Don Hinchcliffe, who has broken a lot of new ground over the past year in his assessments of SOA-Web 2.0 convergence, picked up on my post about IBM's mashup server, and delves deeper into what, exactly  'enterprise mashups' are, and how they can make a difference.

Dion cautions that "mashup" is still a poorly defined and still misunderstood term. There are clear similarities and differences between SOA and mashup apps. exact difference is between composite applications and mashups. The main difference is that "composite applications – those supposedly elegant marriages of the resources of a SOA into brand new software that is more an assembly of existing components than green field development – don't have to be Web-based.  Mashups do," Dion points out.

"There is the increased formality of composite applications, which are typically based on SOAP Web services and frequently woven together with BPEL and developed by professional programmers.  Composite applications also tend to use an older generation of programming languages and technologies that have more overhead and ceremony.  And, almost certainly too much exposed plumbing and infrastructure."

Mashups, on the other hand, use "almost remarkably simple, basic techniques for connecting things together.  This includes guerilla-style development techniques that deliver results in preference to formal, upfront engineering.  This might mean using Javascript includes of another site's software, straightforward Web services and feeds based directly on top of HTTP, and JSON for data retrieval and remixing.  And with initiatives like OpenAjax, we might get first real conventions for component interoperability in the browser."

Also over the past week or so, other ZDNet blogging colleagues have been covering some new developments related to service-oriented architecture. Dana Gardner discusses the new "SOA Link" a  number of SOA and infrastructure vendors -- including Infravio, Mindreef, JBoss, and HP -- have banded together to form, offering interoperability between various products -- an alternative, if you will, to the larger, all-in-one product sets the larger vendors are offering. Dana observes that "in many ways, a federated approach to SOA quality assurance and performance reliability makes much more sense in real practice than an all-in-one approach that breeds complexity in the name of reliability."

In a new podcast, Dana also interviews Brent Williams, a senior analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets, on how the open-source Eclipse toolset is not only impacting Java software development, but also resulting in greater convergence between the SOA and open source software worlds.

Phil Wainewright unveiled a "blinding a-ha moment" around a set of highly granular human resource-based services. Phil introduces Employease Extend, a software-as-services provider that lays out its various offerings as granular, easy-to-discover HR-based services that an enterprise can contract into its own operations.

"This is proper documentation designed to make the service really usable, rather than merely fobbing off developers with having to look at the WSDL and work out for themselves what they're supposed to do," Phil observed. "It includes essential information such as what network rights are required and what the most common exception responses mean, along with request and response examples. Even more impressive is the overview, which concisely gives you vital information about options, dependencies and interpretation."

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