Marge Breya, senior VP and chief marketing officer over at BEA, just published a piece on SOA's emerging role as "peacemaker" between mudslinging vendors. This is entirely an appropriate view from the "Switzerland" of vendors.
"Remember the days when people were fighting over operating-system APIs (application programming interfaces)? You can almost picture our macho industry icons standing atop their software stacks -- like siege towers -- hurling insults back and forth. Our view is that service-oriented architectures, or SOAs, will bring down these siege tower silos. We often find ourselves in the middle, playing peacemaker among competing platforms, standards and industry peers."
Customers -- who want and need solutions to pressing business problems -- want more solutions, and fewer fireworks, Breya said. She observes that SOA may take the wind out of a lot of this chest-thumping and mudslinging, since it shifts the market emphasis away from enterprise application stacks to the middle.
I have already been speculating in this blog that SOA may eventually take much of the oomph out of mega-ERP. I have spoken with companies (here and here) that have found they could do end-runs around complicated ERP upgrades or investments by moving needed functionality out of their applications and into vendor-neutral service-oriented middleware.
This is not news to the infrastructure vendors, Oracle, IBM, et al., who see the handwriting on the wall. They recognize the battleground is moving to the middle, and of course, they want to control as much of that space as possible. And, with millions and billions of dollars in their marketing and acquisition war chests, it's unlikely peace will reign in the SOA middle space anytime soon.
Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. We need as much competition as the market will give us; the time to really get nervous is when vendors start agreeing with each other a little too much.