There's been plenty of confusion out there over the real meaning of Web 2.0 and SOA, but Gartner has pinned them down to two levels of activity in the organization: Web 2.0 happens in the front office, and SOA happens in the back office.
Are Web 2.0 and SOA bonding or colliding? Maybe a little of both
In a new podcast, Gartner analysts speculate that all the buzz around Web 2.0 may be derailing, to some extent, all the heady work that's been going into SOA. Is this a fair claim? Do SOA and Web 2.0 complement each other (as I've said many times at this blogsite), or do they sometimes collide?
One area where there seems to be growing cohesion between SOA and Web 2.0, as explained by Gartner's Yefim Natis in the podcast, is between SOA and SaaS. With SOA practices in place, "as you’re acquiring applications, especially software as a service, what you’re really acquiring is a collection of services. Once you have acquired this collection of services, and you register them in a registry/repository, they become an asset of the entire enterprise. The boundaries of the application are becoming very thin."
However, all the excitement around various aspects of Web 2.0 may truly be a distraction from SOA, both Natis and fellow Gartner analyst Jeff Comport point out. Comport says he has seen many clients "start out with grandiose plans… full architecture, high reuse, repositories and so forth," he said. "Somewhere along the line they get distracted by things like Web 2.0.. AJAX, and the user interface. And it tends to derail the grand plan to things that are more tactical."
This only the latest phase of the decades-old struggle between the forces of opportunistic and systematic IT, Natis points out. "The back end part of IT is a lot more conservative, and is in fact is resisting frequent change. It will only accept change only on a regular planned basis."
Natis observes that in order to support innovative Web 2.0 approaches, and organization needs the reliability and innovation that back-end IT -- and SOA -- provides. "In order to be able to innovate, you’re going to have to take care of your core system responsibilities, then add to that your layer of innovation. You can’t convert entire enterprise to a fly-by-night kind of enterprise."
I'll be exploring these issues at a panel next Tuesday, entitled SOA and Web 2.0: Mashups, SaaS, and Collaboration: Putting the Pieces Together, that will be part of ebizQ's two-day "SOA in Action" confab. (Virtual confab that is.) Fellow ZDNet blogging community activitists Dana Gardner and Phil Wainewright will be there, with some more to be announced.