As my blogmate Britton points out, Patrick Grady and Rearden Commerce walk the walk when it comes to SOA, with a fairly compelling SOA-based platform offering. Dan Farber also spoke at length with Grady. What is notable, and new, is the fact that EBS is essentially, among other things, a pure Web services-based EDI platform.
From this point onward, expect to see plenty more pure-play Web services and SOA solutions providers to come on the scene. There's been a lot of debate about how far and fast Web services can go into the mission-critical aspects of the enterprise, and live up to its promises. Some say Web services are still too immature, and we're just starting to get our arms around security issues. So, as usual, it's up to the entrepreneurs and visionaries to prove the naysayers wrong, and figure out the way to deliver the goods.
This brings to mind another industry visionary I had the privilege to meet more than a decade ago -- Lew Jenkins, founder of ApparelNet and Premenos Technology (later sold to Harbinger, now part of Inovis). Jenkins worked under a little more obscurity than Grady, and in the early 1990s, was putting forth a vision of supporting EDI over the Internet. No big deal today, but at the time, EDI was the domain of proprietary network vendors. The idea of putting a critical business function such as EDI on the still immature and unsecure Internet seemed risky, if not foolhardy. But look where we are today -- even the value-added network sellers use the Internet. Web-based EDI is a simpler and far, far cheaper alternative to the older, and far more expensive value-added network approach.
Rearden's Patrick Grady exhibits much of the vision and passion of Jenkins -- but we're still just out of the starting gate with SOA, so expect to see plenty of competition in this space. Rearden will face fierce competition, not only from software-as-a-service vendors, but also from enterprise software vendors, and even internal IT departments that prefer and build their own SOAs. And it will be interesting to see how on-demand providers such as Grand Central Communications, SPS Commerce, and Inovis respond. And, hopefully, plenty of entrepreneurs and visionaries will continue to come on the market to put their ideas to the test.