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No REST for the weary: elegant services don't automatically lead to elegant SOA

JBOWS, or Just a Bunch of Web Services, may be supplanted by JABERS, of Just a Bunch of Elegant REST Services. Still no SOA in sight, however.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

A few years ago, I identified the problem with SOA efforts as that most of them were actually series of "JBOWS" implementations - or Just a Bunch of Web Services.

JABERS, or 'Just a Bunch of Elegant REST Services'

That was back in 2005. Have things gotten any more organized? A bit, perhaps. But while there has been talk of SOA being dead, perhaps it's more appropriate to say SOA is still stuck in the birth canal.

In the meantime, while doctors and midwives continue to futilely yell "push, push, push," standards have shifted a bit.

Herbjörn Wilhelmsen, a top-notch SOA and IT consultant whom I've had the pleasure of working with at the SOA Symposia every year, just made note of this shift in his latest post.

Essentially, many companies are now attempting to patch together REST-based services, with no overarching architectural strategy, he points out. While REST is the "new fire in the universe," and many consider it be "better, simpler and more elegant than Web services," it still won't cut it in the move to service-oriented architecture.

As Herbjörn reminds us, "in spite of all this elegance and simplicity, if you miss out on the really important things, REST will not help you attain the goals of SOA or anything remotely similar." Those important things include clear strategic leadership, business value, service discoverability, testing, and monitoring.

Lesson: A bunch of services, no matter if they are simpler and more elegant than those that preceded them, do not a service oriented architecture make. Standards are necessary to SOA, but SOA is not about any particular standard.

Or, as was mentioned in the SOA Manifesto, "Products and standards alone will neither give you SOA nor apply the service orientation paradigm for you."

And for further and somewhat more technical discussion, revisit this post by William Martinez Pomares, who also warns that there's too much of a tendency to look at REST as the magic ingredient for SOA with the same hopefulness once applied to SOAP and Web services. His sage words: "REST is another architectural Style. It was made for a very different problem and I can assure you it is not the replacement of SOA."

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