SOA Talk

July 27, 2011  3:37 PM

WebSphere 8 takes J EE6 to the streets, adds OSGi

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Long in the forefront of application servers, WebSphere is sometimes a bit overlooked. However the latest version of the IBM application server is worth some consideration, as its new features point out some of the big enterprise trends of the moment. Continued »

July 19, 2011  12:51 AM

XQuery: Secret weapon for the data integration specialist?

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

In an effort to simplify integration, some teams have tried new languages to deal with data. Has XQuery, a big part of the initial XML and Web services push, gotten lost in the shuffle? Continued »

July 14, 2011  1:47 PM

XBRL Challenge offers $20,000 grand prize

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

By Valerie Sarnataro, Editorial Assistant Coop

Although XBRL looms as an SEC mandate, uptake is still slow for the XML-based language that handles business information. To spur more interest, the nonprofit  XBRL consortium is staging a contest to find the top open source tools for analyzing financial data. The competition, dubbed the XBRL Challenge, features a $20,000 grand prize to be awarded to the contestant who submits the most useful application using XBRL-formatted data.

Participants may include a company, team or individual developer. Entrants will be granted access to a database of XBRL financial fundamentals from all public companies and documents on how to work with XBRL data. Webinar and in-person meetings will also be offered to aid in working with the XBRL data, including an online XBRL Challenge briefing on August 3, 2011.

Submissions will be accepted up until January 31, 2012, while final judging and awarding of prizes will occur in February 2012. The panel of five judges will include: Alfred Berkeley, chairman of Pipeline Trading Systems; Marc Donner, head of Google Finance; Eric Gillespie, managing partner at Viano Capital; Vijay Khanna, general partner of GIV Venture Partners and Paul Ratnaraj, director of advanced initiatives at Wharton Research Data Services.

July 12, 2011  2:28 AM

Distinguishing application integration from SOA

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Jack Vaughan, Editor


Sometimes it seems application integration and SOA are either mortal enemies or birds of a feather – there seldom seems to be much of a middle ground there. The dichotomy is often on display on such worthy channels as the Service Orientated Architecture discussion forum. Someone there recently posted a job description for a SOA enterprise architect, and estimable forum members quickly chimed in, insisting the posting described an Integration Specialist rather than a SOAist. has generally looked at SOA as how you do things, and application integration as what you mostly do. We found out that ”them’s fighting words,” if you will, back in 2009 when we quoted Gartner’s Yefim Natis saying ”SOA is integration.” This didn’t sit right with some people who thought it was, at best, a return to some naive notions from the early days of EAI.


Gartner actually distinguishes application integration from SOA, in a way. That is, it breaks out market Magic Quadrants separately for “Application Infrastructure for New Systematic SOA Application Projects” and ”Application Infrastructure for Systematic Application Integration Projects.” Late in 2010, contributor Colleen Frye spoke with Gartner’s Massimo Pezzini about some of these distinctions.


Again the dichotomy came up in a story last week on a book on so-called ”Lean Integration.”  The story discusses what business-side people see as ‘gold-plating”- the feeling a simple near-term software project is made to meet long-term services criteria. They feel their project is being made to carry the burden of others. Lean Integration’s authors have a humorous metaphor to describe this. It is, ”the first person on the bus pays for the bus.”


Integration and SOA – if it was truly bloody simple to balance the two, well, SOA would be a no-brainer anyone could do. As Yefim Natis told us long ago, “The difficulty in SOA-oriented development is that it must achieve real short-term business goals while setting the stage for far-reaching architectural objectives.” On a bad day that can turn into a dilemma, a quandary or a hairball, take your pick. Let us know what you think.

July 5, 2011  7:15 PM

Rod Johnson: A complex view on OSGi

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Some controversies hang on forever. One such is the controversy around simplifying Java, which certainly goes back to the EJB 2.0 days –- and which is sometimes at the base of OSGi arguments today. There are plenty that feel OSGi is just too darn hard –- and it does appear at times that ISVs, who theoretically are well-supplied with the best and brightest programmers, are the ones most likely to carry OSGi forward. They would do this, one would suggest, by embedding OSGI, creating abstractions, providing sand boxes, and thus shielding ordinary mortal developers from OSGi’s true complexity.

SpringSource’s Rod Johnson, whose Spring Framework rose to prominence as a kinder and gentler way to do Java ventured into this battle earlier this year when he admitted to OSGi’s complexity. As SpringSource’s OSGi dm Server is one of the poster children for OSGi success to this point, Johnson found he had to do some clarifying. The server is now part of the Eclipse Foundation portfolio. Here, per is Rod Johnson’s take on OSGi:

(a) OSGi is a great solution for complex applications with stringent modularity requirements;

(b) typical business applications (from which we make the bulk of our revenue) don’t have such requirements;

(c) our efforts to reduce the complexity of writing server-side OSGi applications were promising, but the road to simplification was longer and less certain than we’d hoped. Thus continuing down that road at the Eclipse Foundation, in partnership with other companies and individuals, was a natural move.

June 24, 2011  3:56 PM

COBOL programmers now deploying Java apps

James Denman James Denman Profile: James Denman

COBOL developers and Java developers have long been at odds. Lately it seems like the Java folks are winning the fight. Many COBOL shops have given in and closed shop, or jumped fence into the Java or .NET camps. Now even some of the COBOL stalwarts, whose COBOL programs do still hold some advantages over the more popular Web-based development languages, are admitting that they can’t stay COBOL (or at least not just COBOL) forever. Continued »

June 21, 2011  7:33 PM

On Erl’s growing body of SOA work

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

As many SOA practitioners have discovered over the years, when team leaders and members are looking for a starting place, a refresher or a general reference on SOA, the library of Thomas Erl is a good choice. Continued »

June 20, 2011  2:46 PM

Cloudforce brings social networking Chatter to the fore

James Denman James Denman Profile: James Denman

Last week, held a CloudForce event here in Boston.  They have already been through Washington DC, and they’ll be making their way across the nation.  As Barney Beal reports, Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff proclaimed that the company is moving beyond cloud computing and into the “social enterprise.” I understand why Salesforce would want to call their new initiatives, based on social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook, a “social enterprise,” but Wikipedia tells me that name is already taken. But I digress…

I found Bennioff’s assertions about the future of enterprise computing both entertaining and inspiring, but a little bit vague on the details. He was absolutely right about a lot of what he was telling the enterprise marketers to do. We need to be more open, more democratic, and better connected. I was really impressed by his vision for Toyota Friend, a private social network for owners of Toyota automobiles that lets the cars and their owners interact on a somewhat personal level. (Bennioff’s answer to IBM’s Volt?)

But how are those goals going to be realized? After the keynote, I got some answers from Salesforce VP Peter Coffee, head of platform research. Continued »

June 9, 2011  6:52 PM

DevOps proponents remember ”DAD” – Disciplined Agile Delivery

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Long an undercurrent,  the  conversation around DevOps is now gaining wider attention.

Developers preparing work for operations have always been admonished not to ‘throw it over the wall’ but that has not naturally evolved into a true dialog with system admins that oversee the data center. 

It has been discussed in relationship to cloud computing, but it remains an object of attention for the classic data center as well.

Noted Agilist Scott Ambler has counted effective links between developers and operations as a major goal for many years. At IBM he has worked with others to incorporate such best practices in frameworks and tools. Continued »

June 6, 2011  6:06 PM

Volt car maker touts software component reuse successes

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

By some measures, General Motor’s Volt hybrid electric car is moving to market very quickly. At IBM’s Rational Innovate 2011, Bill Bolander, technical fellow, General Motors, featured the Volt as an example of successful software reuse.

He cited some examples of reuse related savings for the Volt, estimating that 90% of the software developed for GM’s conventional engines was reused on the Volt. Moreover, 60% of the HVAC software was reused. Furthermore, Volt has a reconfigurable LCD display for its instrument cluster, he said, adding that it benefits from 90% reuse of software components from a conventional cluster.

Reused components have well understood metrics that allow for “more predictable processes and planning,” according to Bolander.  It is ironic, he noted, that rote reuse can serve to free-up developer time that can then be concentrated on innovation.

“Our vehicles are differentiated more and more by software capabilities,” said Bolander. Interaction between software engineers and automobile systems engineers is now a daily fact of life, he said.



Figure 1: At IBM’s Rational Innovate 2011, Bill Bolander, Technical Fellow, General Motors, featured the Volt as an example of successful software reuse. A model hooked up to an electrical recharging tether was on display.

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