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Fighting complexity with complexity

And the SOA beat goes on...

There was a time when MTV actually had music, and Oracle was just a database company. And, yes, we had Web services as simple interfaces to untangle problematic architectures.

MTV has become a hodge-podge of over-commercialized hyperentertainment, Oracle has become a hodge-podge of acquired vendors, and Web services has become... vertigo?

The prevailing theme of a recent SDForum conference, reported on by ComputerWorld's Paul Krill, was that Web services has lost its way, and has become a confusing jumble of conflicting standards. Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at the Burton Group, really drove the whole issue home, referring to the current state of Web services as “vertigo.”

Manes rolled off a list of 15 Web services specifications currently vying to become standards, such as WS-Federation and BPEL. “I understand what all this stuff is and it still makes my head spin,” she is quoted as saying. Blame the vendors, who keep pushing their own standards, Manes said.

Situations have also emerged with competing standards proposals, such as WS-ReliableMessaging and WS-Reliability, although “WS-ReliableMessaging has won that battle”. WS-Notification and WS-Eventing are also competing proposals, as are BPEL and WS-CDL (Choreography Description Language) present yet another competitive situation, she says.

Krill also quotes BEA's Edward Cobb, who observed that the complexity of these standards has been a major issue for many companies attempting to put Web services to work. “You really do need to be a rocket scientist to use a lot of it."

Speaking of rockets, whatever happened to that "Black Rocket" service that was supposed to take care of everything, from Web hosting to e-commerce, in one neat little package?