With all the new excitement swirling around Apples' upcoming entry into the market, the iPad, perhaps its time to sit back and think about Steve Jobs' business model as it relates to the way we acquire services and content. That is, the idea that applications (or services or whatever) are sitting out there in a common catalog, ready for use anytime you need it and send a few dollars/euros/pounds/rupees their way.
Dion Hinchcliffe, a fellow contributor here at ZDNet, published some thoughts about the app store model and how its shaping our perceptions of how a software delivery system should function.
That is, the app store supports an ecosystem of developers and creators, but acts as a governance mechanism to make sure the crappy and malicious stuff doesn't degrade and contaminate the ecosystem. Apple and Amazon maintain app stores that provide a consistent and reliable source for services and software.
Sounds like the job of SOA in the enterprise, does it not? SOA is based on maintaining a core directory of available services that can be quickly accessed by end-users across various departments. In theory, the services are well-vetted, secure, and consistent.
Let's take another page from the Apple playbook and look at another analogy.
For quite some time, we have talked about the concept of accessing SOA-ready services through public online marketplaces, and how that could shake up the way we approach IT. We're seeing manifestations of this model through cloud computing.
A few months back, I cited an interesting analogy from George Ravich, interview, who suggests SOA-based services be made available to enterprise users the way iTunes are available online, ready to plug into a framework. "the SOA service catalog promises to have the same impact on enterprise computing as the iTunes playlist has had on listening to music."
To recap how Ravish described it: An SOA-aware service -- such as customer authentication -- can be plugged into a company's "playlist":
"Prior to the iPod, people listened to songs on a vinyl record or a CD in the order that the publisher determined. If you wanted to play several songs from different albums, it was a complicated and time-consuming activity,. Now, with an iPod, you can take the individual songs you own and create an endless number of play lists. Each song track is reusable in different settings and situations, under the full control of the listener."
"Similarly, prior to SOA, enterprise applications trapped business processes within inflexible workflows. Without extensive IT development the reuse of any single business process became unfeasible within these systems, leading to multiple versions of the same process being developed separately for different applications and channels."