Signs abound that SOA is moving to the sweet spot of the market

Bellwhether Microsoft, new tools say SOA is ripe for mass adoption

The other week, I poised the question of whether end-users should be able to build their own services within an SOA framework. This stirred some interesting commentary in the blogosphere, including James Taylor's observation that "businesspeople don't want to assemble applications, they want to run their business!"

Bellwhether Microsoft, new tools say SOA is ripe for mass adoption

Programming is not for everybody, but perhaps SOA and related tools can provide enough automation and abstraction that business users will be able to assemble services on the fly. BEA's Bruce Graham had argued that SOA will not have crossed the chasm from an IT-centric to a business-focused endeavor until business end-users -- at least those with some technical acumen -- actually have some hands-on capabilities to design their own SOA-supported processes.

Such mass-market absorption and adoption may be the best, if not only route, for SOA proliferation and success within the enterprise. And the bellwhether to watch to validate this trend is Microsoft. The other week, I speculated that of the major software vendors out there, Microsoft seems to be sending the message that Wall Street may eventually like the most -- that SOA will ultimately be monetized the most within the mass market. That's always been Big Red's strength -- it builds a huge constituency in lower-end, mass-commoditized markets, then steamrolls its way upstream.

In recent months, Microsoft has even been uttering the term 'SOA.'  Did Big Red finally get SOA religion? More likely, it's a sign that SOA has moved to the sweet spot of the market --in which it's poised for mass adoption. Microsoft built itself up over the decades as a fast follower -- waiting until a technology ripens for mass-market adoption, then moving in.

Is SOA ripened for mass-market adoption, then? Another compelling clue comes by way of a spate of new product announcements, cited by ZDNet blogging colleague Dan Farber . Dan observes that a new generation of tools -- widgets, pipes, and teqlets -- may unleash the power of SOA to the masses, "or at least the masses with a modicum of technical aptitude and logical reasoning ability."

Dan calls this new class of tools by a variety of names -- SOA 2.0, lightweight SOA, DIY (Do It Yourself) SOA, Recombinant Web or Mashup 2.0 or Widget 2.0. But whatever they are called, they serve to hide "much of complexity involved in creating applets and threading together composite Web applications," Dan said. 

Vendors involved in the building of such "bite-sized" Web or desktop applications include Yahoo, Google, Netvibes, Pageflakes, Windows Live, SpringWidgets, Yourminis, Apple, and Serence Klipfolio. "Building widgets is not for the non-programmer, but many widgets are configurable by users," Dan said.