SOA has had a bit of a rough summer. The Best and Brightest of the SOA bloggers have publicly ruminated long and lamentably on SOA’s future. There has been a bit of SOA fatigue in evidence. Could it be because many SOA projects are ready to roll out and some people want to be elsewhere when one or two implode?
SOA fatigue may be traced to aspects of SOA that people have sometimes rightly described as bloated. For SOA repositories and SOA governance the jury is still out. Continued »
Extreme transaction processing (XTP) gets down to business in service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications at AbeBooks.com, a Canada-based online bookstore, profiled in a SearchSOA user story earlier this month. The marketplace for books is using Oracle Coherence, a distributed in-memory data grid designed for XTP environments. A product of Oracle’s purchase of Java performance specialist Tangosol in 2007, Coherence automatically partitions data in-memory across multiple servers.
The Web wins, says Nexaweb’s CTO Jeremy Chone analyzing what happened with the ECMAScript working group Harmony decision announced earlier this month. “This is really good for the Web.”
Chone’s take on this can be found on his blog.
Former BEA customers, who may be unhappy with Oracle Corp.’s plans for WebLogic as its main service-oriented architecture (SOA) server, are targeted by Sun Microsystems Inc., which today announced a migration program for its JavaCAPS SOA platform. Sun is touting the lower price and open source status of JavaCAPS for former BEA customers looking for an alternative to the Oracle version of WebLogic, said Ashesh Badani, SOA director at Sun.
What’s in a name? Grid computing and Cloud computing advocates will soon be asking this question. Growing out of academic and open source software efforts, the Grid was represented as a virtually distributed architecture where vast computing nodes worked on jobs as needed. Grid was an outgrowth of Utility computing. Both terms were efforts to find analogies in the electrical power industry for hardware-software combos in the world of distributed computation. Grid never quite caught on. Continued »
Microsoft Nick Malik recently blogged on “Inside Architecture” about features that would have to be included in a comprehensive framework for enterprise architecture.
There would have to more communication and sharing between models, he writes. A published taxonomy is another recommendation that would particularly benefit smaller businesses.
Like most MSDN blogs this comes with a disclaimer. This is not the corporate line, necessarily. But, with the company’s moves toward OSLO model unification, Malik’s thinking on EA may have special interest.
Some of the challenge to architects these days comes not from the server side where so much integration effort has been placed, but from the client side. There, Ajax has arisen to improve users’ interactions with multiple application services.
But, as Richard Monson-Haefel told SearchSOA.com’s Rich Seeley, the unending proliferation of thinly supported open-source Ajax frameworks may cause architects for proprietary RIA-alternatives to Ajax. The long-time Burton Group analyst recently took a spot in the Curl brain trust.
Rich writes of his conversaion with Monson-Haefel in How to sort out Ajax and RIA frameworks. Monson-Haefel cites Curl, Flash and Silverlight among RIA choices some individuals are now considering. What do you think?
Last week we at SearchSOA.com ran a story about how ESBs aren’t as interoperable as users might expect them to be. The story prompted a response from StrikeIron CEO Dave Linthicum, basically wondering if the bigger problem here is bad architecture. He wrote:
Call me crazy, but would it not make more sense to have a centralized plan as to what the SOA should be, based on the requirements of the business, versus people dashing out and shelling out the dollars for an ESB for some one-off tactical reason, or more likely just acting out of reaction to the hype? Now, you’re left with a dysfunctional mess that’s not easily corrected, and clearly costly.
Joe McKendrick over at ZDNet picked up on that and put together a brief history of ESB criticism. Linthicum’s blog entry also drew a lot fire down in its comments section (be sure to check them out as iTKO’s John Michelsen, the interviewee in our original article, makes a few points on the unavoidable nature of multiple ESBs). The response in fact spurred Linthicum to write a follow up entry addressing some of the critics of his first entry. After pointing out many of the dysfunctional things he’s heard over the years, he wrote:
[W]hat I’m asserting is that there has to be some architecture forethought behind dragging any technology into the enterprise, and I suspect that’s not occurring.
To be fair, he doesn’t suspect it. He knows that’s the case. We all know that’s the case. As Software AG’s Miko Matsumura put it in another article we ran last week, “People are addicted to messed up IT.”
Anyway, Linthicum finished his latest post with a request:
So, in the spirit of having an open mind, send me your reasons for leveraging multiple ESBs, and why that’s a good approach for your enterprise architecture. Also, while you’re at it, make sure to send me the reasons you’re using an ESB to begin with: your requirements and the reasoning behind the solution. I won’t post them unless you say it’s okay.
It’s an interesting topic, so make sure to send Dave your reasons, if you’ve got some. For my part, I know a lot of people who despise ESBs. During one interview I did with an analyst back in 2005, he referred to ESBs at “methadone.” This was actually praise for the ESB, making the case that it was better than EAI. Yet I know others who just as adamantly argue that at some point you’ve got to implement a service or pull together applications after a corporate merger, and at that point you will find yourself wanting an ESB.
Earlier this year, I actually did a podcast with Mulesource CEO Dave Rosenberg about why he maintains that enterprises will need to accommodate multiple ESBs inside their SOAs.
I would argue the larger point here, and this is where Michelsen was focused in the original article, is that multiple ESBs are a fact of life. No matter if it may be sub-optimal in terms of architecture, a good architecture should be able to tackle this kind of problem, or at least good governance should help ameliorate it. Mergers and acquisitions will happen. You will need to combine services with outside entities. Different divisions will buy disparate products, even if they shouldn’t. This doesn’t even touch on technology creep from the open source arena.
So it’s really two questions. The first is do you even need one ESB let alone many? It’s a fair question and one that every end user ought to put serious thought into answering. The second is, how do you deal with multiple ESBs in your infrastructure? Because no matter how you answer the first question, you will need to manage this situation for at least the near term.
We’re officially into the dog days of summer, that time of year when you’re mind strays to thoughts of cooling off in a body of water. As it turns out, we’re also into the dog days of many SOA implementations.
A recent Burton Group study found that many SOA initiatives have stalled, mainly due to an inability to involve the business in the effort. In a more general sense, stalls are to be expected in any 20-year initiative. Faces change, acute problems arise, the funding pipeline temporarily goes dry. Surely you didn’t expected that achieving enterprise agility, automated business processes and streamlined data access would be a quick or easy process.
If you’re fighting through a corporate lull or battling your own ennui, take heart – you’re not alone. During a long haul you will need to take some rest stops and SOA is an extremely long haul. Here’s some thoughts from Burton Group’s Chris Howard concerning SOA fatigue:
- “You can build something that is absolutely spot on perfect and it will still be wrong.”
- “Reusability is always over-promised.”
- “What do the executives care about? They care that the SLA holds and they don’t care how you do it.”
- “SOA fatigue is setting in because SOA success is tenuous, but when SOA succeeds, it really succeeds.”
- “What does it mean to be 100% SOA compatible? Is that like good fiber or something?”
- “SOA needs to be part of something bigger and if it’s not, then you ought to ask yourself why you’re doing it.”
The good news for Oracle Corp. is it seems to have acquired a happy BEA Systems Inc. customer base. Yet the bad news for Oracle is that it seems to have acquired a happy BEA customer base that isn’t particularly thrilled with the Oracle purchase, according to a SearchSOA.com poll taken last week.
As Oracle prepares to announce its plans for the BEA acquisition tomorrow it may be facing a customer revolt if it’s not careful. What follows is a summary of the survey findings. The raw numbers are available here.
In all, we received 431 responses. Most of the respondents were BEA WebLogic Application Server and Oracle Database customers (94.90% in each case). Respondents also used a a healthy number of other BEA products (WebLogic, AquaLogic, Tuxedo, etc.), while only a small percentage used non-database Oracle products. Part of this is to be expected as the survey was geared toward the BEA user base. This group indicates that Oracle indeed bought itself a customer segment into which it had little penetration. Of particular note is that not many of the BEA customers were using Oracle’s packaged applications (e.g. financial, CRM, human resources).
Most (58.70%) came from IT shops with 250 or more employees.
75.56 of respondents reported they were either somewhat or very satisfied with their BEA products. That confirms something this industry watcher has heard anecdotally over the years, namely that BEA customers, if not teeming in numbers, were a generally contented lot. 61.26% reported they were somewhat or very satisfied with their Oracle products. The main difference is that 24.83% reported they were neutral in regard to their Oracle products, which is perhaps understandable given that most were database customers and almost 75% of the respondents were either architects or developers, not the sort that falls overly in or out of love with a relational database.
87.94% reported they have not yet been contacted by Oracle concerning their BEA products and six months of relative radio silence has seemingly made them nervous. 29.47% reported that they lack confidence that Oracle will continue to support their BEA products and another 44.55% aren’t sure whether that will happen. Oracle has managed to allay similar fears when it has acquired packaged app vendors, but “support” in the development community will mean not only continuing service and support for existing products, but also making sure they keep pace with new advances in the marketplace. This brings us to where Oracle stands to alienate this new customer base if it doesn’t announce and follow through on aggressive plans to move the BEA product set forward (principally WebLogic Application Server).
Potential customer revolt
62.18% of respondents report they will not look to move to comparable Oracle products if their BEA products are discontinued. Another 25.06% report they are unsure on that matter. 77.26% say they do not feel Oracle has a strong offering in the areas where they are using BEA products. Additionally, 70.77% report they will look to replace their BEA installments rather than keep them as legacy if those products are discontinued. It creates a thorny situation for Oracle. It does not have a strong reputation with these, largely, app dev users and they have expressed a clear willingness to jump ship should they not like the course Oracle charts for them. While Oracle surely will look to allay these misgivings in the BEA user base, competitors just as surely will be looking to woo this potential pack of free agents.
Perhaps it can be chalked up to people not liking change or to unhappy customers being more likely to respond to a poll, but 52.43% of those polled reported they have a somewhat or very negative view of Oracle’s BEA acquisition. Another 32.48% voted neutral. The poll indicates that Oracle has a ton of work to do if it wants to win over these BEA customers. This is indeed a new market that Oracle could penetrate in its quest for global software domination, but these users are not rolling out a welcome mat. It may takes years of continuing and advancing key BEA product lines before Oracle can establish itself with these customers, making tomorrow’s announcement only the first step on a political tightrope that stretches beyond the horizon.