SOA's still-missing pieces

A JBoss veteran ponders a continuing lack of service orientation in today's cloud and big data projects.

In Andrew Oliver's interesting retrospective in IT World, he relates back a few years to an event in which he "was standing amid some of the brightest minds in the industry when someone asked, 'What the heck is SOA?' No one could answer except the marketing guy."

There's been nothing but confusion since day one.  Andrew, president and founder of Open Software Integrators and a developer in the early days of JBoss LLC, describes the core essence of service oriented architecture, or SOA, which can't be easily pinned down and packaged into a product:

"SOA isn't a product. It isn't even an architecture. It is a strategy or maybe even a philosophy. The short version is, as Amazon's Jeff Bezos famously summed up, 'everything is a Web service.' SOA services are also discoverable and ideally event-producing or event-driven."

These days, people don't talk about SOA, they talk about cloud and big data. The problem, he says, is it takes a well-formed service oriented architecture to make cloud and big data work for the business.

But even after a decade of service-orienting, there are still issues, he points out. For example, SOA requires a change in corporate management thinking -- and sharing of resources across departments. Not a lot of that going on yet. Plus, vendors' SOA products aren't completely interoperable, due to lack of a standard service registry (UDDI was undone).

Before organizations move too deeply into cloud and big data, they will need a well-designed governance structure of sharable services and resources. A big tangle of cloud-based services and big data stores will be quite costly without it.





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