Integration, light and simple, over the 'global SOA'

SOA and Web 2.0 are two highly interrelated trends that connect people and systems, make software and data available for reuse via services, and leverages existing IT resources
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The other day, I gave you Nick Carr's take on the recent Web 2.0 Summit. Needless to say, he is not a fan of the concept.

ZDNet blogging colleague Dion Hinchcliffe, however, has this uncanny ability to see constructive innovation through the hype and clutter, and sees Web 2.0 in a whole different light. That is, Web 2.0 is opening the doors to Enterprise 2.0. And a big part of this, he recently wrote, is the conversion starting to take place between SOA and Web 2.0.

SOA and Web 2.0 are "two highly interrelated trends that are very focused on 1) connecting people and systems together easily, 2) making software and data available for reuse via services, and 3) building new value upon the foundation of existing information resources and IT assets."

Dion quotes IBM's Rod Smith (pictured), who talked about the mashup trend as it relates to enterprise IT. "The result?  A surprisingly close relationship between the somewhat stodgy world of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and the bustling world of consumer Web 2.0."Rod Smith, IBM

In fact, in an interview last June, Smith noted that mashups are made of the same stuff as most SOA implementations -- Web services. "You wouldn't have this whole area of mashups if you didn't have [service-oriented architecture] as a backbone," he said.

Dion has described Web 2.0 as a "global SOA," a point borne out in Smith's presentation. A CTO from American Express talked about the company's experiences applying Web 2.0 "to articulate the vision of situational mashup applications, connected bidirectionally via feeds." As a result, tools such as dashboards or other situational apps "can be built in minutes instead of hours, wired together, and even be connected to Internet-based and enterprise IT resources in two directions."

In a related demo, Dion illustrates, IBM's QEDWiki team "built an entire application with phone book integration, financial data integration and charts and graphs, all then re-exposed via an API, forming yet another new service that can be shared out to the enterprise or the 'Global SOA' on the Internet." 

As another SOA-Web 2.0 observer, Rod Boothby, put it, "The idea is to try an make building a real Web based application as easy a building a spreadsheet. Instead of cells with numbers and formulas, end users get a wiki page with widgets that can be plugged together to make a new application."

Sounds an awful lot like the goal of SOA. The convergence of SOA and Web 2.0 has interesting implications for companies seeking faster and more cost effective ways to integrate their disparate silos of systems and information. As Dion observed: "Live users are still the manual integration point of our systems far too often, and now it's getting easier and easier for the average person to direct software do the integration automatically."

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