I recently had the opportunity to chat with Bob Brauer, CEO of StrikeIron, Inc., about the latest phase of his firm's "Web Services Marketplace" offering. (Q&A published here.) Since the marketplace will serve as a forum for both subscribers and publishers of various services, Brauer evoked the eBay analogy for what he is providing; though he stresses that pricing of services will be fixed, and not auctioned.
The eBay analogy is popular across many disciplines now; Salesforce.com's Mark Benioff evoked it for his company's services, as noted in this post from ZDNet's Dan Farber. Nevertheless, I find the idea of building an ecosystem, which potentially could foster a new class of service publishers, intriguing. Some folks are running their own businesses off of eBay, for example. I have a friend that makes a few thousand a year buying and selling used golf equipment within eBay.
How does this all fit into the SOA scheme of things? I talk a lot in this blog about the JBOWS architecture (Just a Bunch of Web Services) that most companies now have, versus fully functioning SOAs. Will having a frenzy of services bought and sold over the open market just add to the confusion?
Two thoughts: Brauer sees StrikeIron's marketplace playing a role in providing services that companies may not have the time or inclination to build. Why reinvent the wheel by having your staff spend time building service components, when you can quickly subscribe to a component, that's been tested and uptime certified, and pay for it on as-used basis? "We are providing, through our partners and ourselves, a bunch of new Web services that you can hook in through your existing SOA," Brauer said. "For example, things like our live tax rates, or our address verification Web service. Different things where it makes a lot more sense for companies to hook into our Web service, rather than having to rebuild and update and gather the data themselves."
The other thought is that if such a marketplace approach does take off, this may push some software vendors to change their models to component delivery, based on a micropayment business model. This also makes plenty of room for smaller start-ups.
Amazon and others are reportedly in interested in this marketplace concept as well. This could open up a whole new way of doing business.