I was invited recently to a high-level enterprise architecture forum being conducted by Microsoft entitled SPARK. Held the weekend before the increasingly buzz-generating MIX 06 conference (where Bill Gates and Web 2.0 promoter and book publisher Tim O'Reilly are now confirmed to be keynoting together), SPARK has the interesting and ambitious goal of creating a detailed mapping between the concepts of SOA, SaaS, and Web 2.0.
Microsoft has increasingly been courting Web 2.0 concepts explicitly, Microsoft has increasingly been courting Web 2.0 concepts explicitly, having previously avoided the term and used placeholders like Live Software instead. having previously avoided the term and used placeholders like Live Software instead. Live Software is Microsoft's fairly extensive initiative for providing online software that provides a virtually complete and seamless experience online using Ajax, start pages, gadgets, and SaaS techniques. But Live Software is primarily a Web-centric vision and doesn't address the actively overlapping architectural concerns of SOA and Web 2.0, which meet and cross over at the juncture of the enterprise and the greater Internet.
With Microsoft's apparently growing interest in sorting out the increasingly confusing enterprise architecture landscape, it appears that Microsoft is aiming at achieving some technical and marketing high-ground. John deVadoss, at his MSDN blog, has video and article coverage from his keynote at the recent Software Architecture Summit that discusses Microsoft's current vision for reconciling and deconflicting these overlapping organizing principles in enterprise software.
As I've written before, Web 2.0 is very closely related to SOA in that both approaches view software as Web services to be composited and remixed into solutions to meet the specific needs of users. But there are significant differences in scale, approach, and perspective that make neither Web 2.0 or SOA a complete architectural solution unto itself. And there is no centralized vision that presents even a comparison and contrast, much a unified view, of the architectural forces and constraints in each model.
Hence Microsoft's effort with the SPARK conference, where they are hoping to assemble a few dozen industry leaders with the ambitious goal of creating a manifesto that defines a roadmap that will hopefully help the community navigate these complex topics. It's an earnest attempt and one that can pay key dividends by providing the world of enterprise architecture a clear and usable vision that takes into account the best aspects of the next generation of the Web, SaaS, and Service-Oriented Architecture. If it can be pulled off, it could potentially put Microsoft in a lead position in terms of industry leadership in the nascent Enterprise Web 2.0 space.
SPARK starts Saturday, March 18th and I'll blog here from Las Vegas at both MIX 06 and SPARK as much as time permits.
Would you really find a concrete mapping between Web 2.0, SaaS, and SOA useful to your work?