The SOA Cloud Thickens

The SOA Cloud Thickens

Summary: Beware of vendors claiming to use open standards. Pat Thibodeau, writing in ComputerWorld, describes some end-user brushes with vendors hawking Web services applications that are actually proprietary underneath the covers.

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Beware of vendors claiming to use open standards. Pat Thibodeau, writing in ComputerWorld, describes some end-user brushes with vendors hawking Web services applications that are actually proprietary underneath the covers. These encounters were explained at a recent IBM event commemorating the second anniversary of the launching of its "on demand" architecture.

In the years I've been tracking the IT business, this comes up all the time. When something is hot, every vendor with a piece of code to sell couches it in the terms of the latest hype word. "Open" is probably the most overused and abused word in the English language, and has been for more than a decade. Ten years ago, "open systems" used to mean Unix. We all know how open that is. Unfortunately, Web services is now the hype, and any and all vendors are pitching their wares in "open," "Web services," and now, "SOA" terms.

Listen to the hype, and you would think SOA is already here and ready for use. Or, as John Fontana puts in a recent Network World Fusion article, vendors would have you believe that SOA will soon be "as standard within companies as morning coffee." He goes on to sum up the view of industry analysts that says "SOA is something you build, not something you buy."

Build, not buy, is a familiar phrase that applied aptly to the early days of data warehousing a decade ago. You can actually buy a fairly integrated data warehouse package and toolset nowadays, but back then, it had to be built, painstaking piece by painstaking piece. Many data warehouses could not deliver, because business priorities were constantly shifting underneath such projects.

For now, SOA is, as data warehousing was back then, a "spaghetti" architecture. As Burton Group analyst James Kobielus points out, SOA and the Web services underneath are a "mess of messages. SOA relies on messaging-oriented interaction among endpoints. How can you manage all this, how can you design it all, optimize it all, track it all, secure it all, this mess of messages, this spaghetti?"

Topic: Enterprise Software

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