Respected developer, adviser and thought leader Dion Hinchcliffe has posted a watershed blog that develops a compelling rationale for Web Oriented Architecture's (WOA's) advancing role in enterprises.
The logic is not to supplant or dismiss Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), but rather to examine how WOA -- also known as lightweight, Web 2.0 applications development and deployment -- should provide an onramp to and stepping stone for SOA generally. WOA and SOA together -- in a harmony that unlocks both the power of cloud computing and of traditional enterprise architectures -- presents a very interesting future indeed.
Dion builds on recent posts by Dave Linthicum, Joe McKendrick, Tony Baer, myself, Phil Wainewright, and some reported findings by Burton Group’s Anne Manes. Many others have been also developing concepts and methodologies for providing the means for enterprises to exploit pure web resources for advancing developer productivity and business process extensibility.
Dion's right. Enterprises don't need to wait four years to build out and culturally align to SOA, not when they can proceed to WOA and continue on their long-term cadence toward building what IBM calls the federated "ESB backplane" for managed business services.
WOA simply allows for many productive SOA activities now -- without the huge investment, the wrenching cultural shifts, and the required several years of IT-business transformation. WOA plus SOA forges the mentality of managed cloud-based services and continued on-premises infrastructure exploitation right away.
WOA plus SOA for even modest B2E, B2C, and B2B business processes development and augmentation is just too good a deal to pass up, and it contributes to longer-term and perhaps more highly structured internal SOA infrastructure values and practices.
Enterprise marketers grappling with huge media and online outreach change, cannot wait years to gain the ability to foster, participate, share and satisfy the needs of socially aggregated communities. Sales forces can not go through IT and its SOA roadmap to combine data and market analysis effectively. Product designers can't managed a global supply chain using ERP alone. Procurement officers can't do more for less based on EDI alone. Integration can not be accomplished for business ecologies based on middleware designed for point-to-point EAI.
The crucial functions of sales, marketing, just-in-time supplier integration, and just-right procurement can't wait for SOA. They can make use now of WOA plus SOA.
As Dion says:
So if so-called Web 2.0 companies — which value participation almost above all else, both from consumers and organizations that want to integrate them into their offerings — are seeing highly desirable levels of adoption and significant ROI, how can this help understand how to improve our efforts in the enterprise? Most new Web 2.0 applications start out life with an API since getting connected to partners that will help you grow and innovate is a well-known essential for success online today. Despite years of SOA, we still don’t focus on consumption and openness as fundamentally essential characteristics to building an internal partner ecosystem that have beat a path to your door to use the services you are offering to them to build upon.
And as I've said, SOA lacks the political center of gravity and heft to spur adoption through grassroots demand. The critical constituencies of users/workers, sales, marketing, product development, and procurement -- and perhaps quite a few developers -- are not demanding SOA. It remains too abstract to them, while what they see possible on the web is tangible, understandable, seemingly attainable.
SOA may be the right thing to do, but ushering in its adoption broadly and deeply is proving arduous and stifles the expected ROI, which erodes the acceleration of further adoption. WOA plus SOA can help solve this.
WOA has evolved via massive scale trial-and-error, and so has been designed through viral adoption, user pull, self-help and with self-qualification of real-time productivity in mind. It works because it just works, not because it's supposed to work, or because someday it will work. As Dion says, "And these new models intrinsically take advantage of the important properties of the Web that have made it the most successful network in history."
Cloud providers and mainstay enterprise software vendors could make sweeter WOA plus SOA music together. They may not have a choice. If Microsoft acquires Yahoo!, there will be a huge push for Microsoft Oriented Architecture that will double-down on "software plus services." And MSFT combined with Yahoo would have an awful lot in place to work from -- from the device and PC client, to the server farm, business applications, developer tools and communities, and ramp-up of global cloud/content/user metadata resources. I think Microsoft already understands the power of WOA plus SOA.
Therefore Google, Amazon, Apple, eBay, and perhaps some of the traditional communications service providers and media companies will need to form natural and more attractive alternatives ... fast. There is no reason why IBM, HP, Oracle/BEA, TIBCO, and SAP should not seek out the consumer-facing cloud partner that can bring the WOA to their SOA.
They will need cloud partners that best further their business interests, and the productivity interests of their online clients and users. Microsoft will be offering some significant enticements along these lines -- and once again getting between the providers and the users, with a cash register going cha-ching, cha-ching all the while.
Enterprises and software vendors need WOA plus SOA, if for no other reason than Microsoft needs WOA plus SOA even more.
[Disclosure: HP and TIBCO are sponsors of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]