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Five ways in which SOA can teach Web 2.0 a thing or two

"Here we go again. We've heard it all before: A new technology comes along and then suddenly everything we've ever done with any older technologies is obsolete and will go away.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

"Here we go again. We've heard it all before: A new technology comes along and then suddenly everything we've ever done with any older technologies is obsolete and will go away. At first glance, the new Web 2.0 technologies appear to follow this pattern. Hardcore proponents of these technologies will tell you that you need to throw out all of your SOAP services; not only will building with SOAP and WSDL make your project take longer, they won’t convey any benefits. The truth, of course, is not so simple."

-Kyle Brown and Rachel Reinitz

Kyle Brown and Rachel Reinitz, distinguished engineers with IBM, put together a great summary of the lessons learned from SOA that need to be applied to budding Web 2.0-ish projects:

1) Enable new business models: Look beyond the cool new tools Web 2.0 offers and look at ways Web 2.0 can disrupt and improve the business. Many of the arguments around the efficacy of SOA have concerned its immersion in IT, rather than providing a way for the business at large to transform itself. As Kyle and Rachel put it: "A key selling point of SOA has been increasing the flexibility of business processes, through services as building blocks, thereby enabling new business models and innovation.... Likewise, Web 2.0 enables you to reach out to, communicate with, and collaborate with your customers and business partners in ways not previously possible."

2) Reach out to the business: SOA both reaches the business while also resonating with IT. Web 2.0 needs to do the same. "You need to be as concrete as possible on business value, and -- even better -- provide projected return on investment (ROI) for adoption of Web 2.0. Let's face it: the business community doesn't necessarily get jazzed by new technology the same way that developers do," say Kyle and Rachel.

3) Drive adoption from a firm methodological basis: Successful SOA efforts have had well-planned practices, procedures, and rules, including modeling and architecture. Kyle and Rachel recommend extending these methodologies to Web 2.0. "For example, there need to be ways to identify the communities that are the targets of Web 2.0 applications, and also ways to identify their communication styles. There also need to be ways of defining the business value that result from leveraging these communities to help you evaluate services."

4) Have vision, establish a roadmap, and execute projects: SOA success depends on having a vision and capability to execute on that vision, and the same applies to Web 2.0 strategies. "If you start running individual Web 2.0 projects without a vision and roadmap, and without a common infrastructure, you risk delivering less value, re-learning lessons already learned, not reusing code across projects, and not building common infrastructure and procedures (such as security)," say Kyle and Rachel.

5) Do not overlook governance: This has been a big, big deal in the SOA space, of course. Many of the issues that have already been worked through with SOA can be reasily applied to Web 2.0-ish projects. Remember, SOA started as Web services and integration projects springing up across organizations, until people decided there needs to be a way of increasing the value of these efforts to the business. "Governance for Web 2.0 will be even more challenging, given that key aspects of Web 2.0 adoption is free communication and collaboration in a community and the sharing of information," say Kyle and Rachel. There are already plenty of lessons learned from SOA.

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