We at SearchSOA.com have a number of SOA user stories in the works at the moment and it strikes me that we could just about churn out a case study a day at this point in time. Last month at the IBM Impact conference, I blogged that seemingly every type of business imaginable has been embracing service orientation.
We’re encountering more big SOA projects than ever before and you’ve got to wonder what the working rationale is these days for an app dev project that isn’t loosely coupled and conformant with an enterprise architecture. What’s the counter argument? Obviously it can be less expensive in the short term and less complex to throw applications together in piecemeal fashion, but over time that approach becomes costly. It’s also a mess from an engineering standpoint.
Here are some of the most recent examples:
- Cars.com turned to SOA to help it with rapid growth
- Deutsche Post used service orientation to blend Java and .NET apps in a CRM system
- Con-way plans on building mobile apps for its transportation fleet based on the composite development its pursued over the past decade
- Business process orchestration has become a key for online real estate company Move Inc.
- SOA taught the Delaware Electric Cooperative the importance of BPM
- Insurance industry information provider MIB Inc. rebuilt its entire business around SOA
You can find links to 18 other SOA case studies in our top stories of 2007 compilation. The number of users who can document proven success with SOA is exploding. Does it deliver as advertised in every situation? No, nothing does and that’s why we go out and try to find the users with best practices to share. This is a complex field, but the ranks of users who’ve found the benefits that justify tackling the complexity are growing almost daily.
Here’s a question for those who don’t count SOA as a core competency in their app dev shop: why?
SOA Software Inc. says its acquisition of LogicLibrary Inc., announced today, creates “a dominant Integrated SOA governance automation company.”
The two companies were both rated as leaders in respective governance areas by two major analyst firms, said Roberto Medrano, SOA Software’s executive vice president, in making the argument that the new whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.
Pointing to a Gartner Inc. magic quadrant for “Integrated SOA Governance Technology Sets” published at the end of 2007, he said, “Why do we say we’re leaders? It’s not because we say it. Gartner says SOA Software is a leader in SOA governance. LogicLibrary is there as a visionary. The combination of SOA Software as a leader and LogicLibrary as a visionary certainly puts us up there.”
Medrano then points to a Forrest Research Inc. wave chart for “SOA Service Life-Cycle Management,” published in the first quarter 2008, which shows LogicLibrary and SOA Software in the running for leadership roles in a graphical scrum with IBM, Hewlett Packard Corp., and Software AG. BEA Systems Inc., now being acquired by Oracle Corp., rises above the rest in the Forrester view.
The acquisition of LogicLibrary by SOA Software follows a trend among governance vendors that is likely to continue, writes Dana Gardner, principal analyst of Interarbor Solutions LLC., in his blog today about the deal.
“The merger underscores not only the SOA vendor consolidation trend (ongoing), but also highlights the market driver of more end-to-end governance and management aspects of SOA deployments,” Gardner writes. “HP and TIBCO also had recent announcements that point up a wide and more automated approach to SOA governance/management.”
“What’s more,” Gardner added, “I expect to see more of this ‘total management’ approach to SOA coming from the open source SOA infrastructure providers, too.”
The strength of the SOA Software/Logic Library combination, Medrano argues is that while the two companies are highly rated on the same analysts’ charts, their technologies are complementary, adding to the greater whole with little overlap.
“There is no real competition between us and LogicLibrary in terms of the assets and products that we have,” the SOA executive said. Concluding that with their product lines merged: “We become one of the few if not the only one that provides the entire SOA governance for all the enterprise assets.”
Alan Himler, who until today was CEO and chairman of LogicLibrary and is now senior vice president, product management for SOA Software, said the combined governance technologies cover more than Web services.
“The beauty of it is that it covers not just services but other types of assets,” he said. “We can offer a solution from the distributed level up to the mainframe.”
The executives of the two companies points to the individual technologies they offered:
SOA Software technology included:
- policy lifecycle governance
- SOA registry, service lifecycle, compliance policy
- operational governance
- service security, mediation, management, operational policy
- SOA asset lifecycle management
- SOA development governance and SOA repository
- IDE and SCM integration
Medrano pointed out specific areas where LogicLibrary products will strengthen SOA Software offerings. He said the LogicLibrary Logidex product complements its SOA Service Lifecycle Management position with added capabilities including:
- Compliance policy definition and validation
- Mainframe artifact discovery
- Management policy definition and integrated implementation and enforcement
- Depth of support for service definitions
- Enhanced standards support
- Richer RBAC model and IDM system integration
- Federated identity and trust mediation
SOA Software’s Workbench is strengthened with capabilities from LogicLibrary including:
While financial details of the acquisition involving privately held companies was not released, Medrano said it involved a stock transfer. He said Los Angeles-based SOA Software will maintain the LogicLibrary offices including the Pittsburg, PA headquarters, and the Rochester MN research lab. The majority of the staff will also be retained, he added.
Pro wrestling legend Rowdy Roddy Piper immortalized the words “Just when they think they’ve got the answers, I change the questions.”
Now we at SearchSOA.com are asking you to do the same thing, sort of. It won’t involve wearing a kilt or smashing a coconut over anyone’s skull. We just want you to ask some good questions.
We’ve recently revamped our site experts roster and we’re looking to put them through their paces. The way it works is you ask a question and we send the question off to an expert to get you an answer. It’s a fairly illustrious list of folks:
- SOA standards and architecture – Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at Burton Group
- SOA governance and BPM – Sri Nagabhirava, founder and chief architect nLeague Services
- SOA infrastructure – Dana Gardner, principal analyst Interarbor Solutions
- RIA and enterprise mashups – Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst ZapThink
- SOA testing and QA – Rami Jaamour, product manager of SOA solutions at Parasoft
- Data services – Larry Fulton, senior analyst at Forrester Research
- SOA development – Chris Haddad, vice president and service director at Burton Group
They’re already producing some top flight insight, like data integration best practices, where grid intersects SOA and the difference between WSDL 1.1 and 2.0. Yet good answers like that depend on good questions from the user community. We sift through heaping piles of “What’s the difference between an application server and a Web server?” (a perfectly legitimate question, but we answered it back in 2003) in order to get some of the top minds in the SOA space the best questions the user base can generate.
The process for submitting a question is simple. Just go to the topic where your question fits and click on “Pose a Question.” That will take you to a question submission form. After that, it’s as simple as typing in your query. Keep us busy. We like it that way.
Java EE 6, now in the development stage, needs to embrace the service component architecture (SCA) specification, argues Sanjay Patil, standards architect at SAP AG.
The Java Community Process Web page for Java EE 6 indicates that SCA is being considered for the next version of the enterprise platform. So in a conversation at this week’s Java One with the SAP standards guru, SearchSOA editors asked Patil if consideration should move to implementation.
Should SCA be part of Java EE 6?
“I certainly think it should,” Patil answered. “The main reason is SCA is really about assembling applications in a technology neutral way. If it was about a specific platform, such as Java EE, you could say there are enough APIs and libraries for Java applications. But if you look at the key value of SCA it’s about recognizing the fact that customers have different technologies, Java EE, BPEL, BPM systems, traditional EAI systems. They have a variety of communications mechanisms including Web services, JMS, and EDI.”
Facilitating SOA development in these heterogeneous environments was the driver behind the creation of the SCA specification by a vendor group that included SAP, IBM, Oracle Corp., and BEA Systems Inc. SCA is now making its way through the standards process at OASIS.
While there was a dearth of official talk about enterprise Java in the Java One keynote, Patil said the Java Enterprise Edition will be a major player in service component development.
“One of the main component technologies is going to be Java EE,” he said. “Our NetWeaver product is based on Java EE 5. So in our view it is important that Java EE support this high-level composition standard, SCA.”
In front of a packed room of a few hundred developers at the 2008 JavaOne conference yesterday, IBM’s Jean-Sebastien Delfino gave a presentation of the Apache Tuscany project, an open source implementation of the Service Component Architecture (SCA) standard. SCA is designed to facilitate a standard method of constructing, assembling and developing composite services and the Tuscany implementation (currently in version 1.2) looks to be ridiculously easy to use.
One of the mantras in the SOA space is that it’s hard to do. Sure enough, enterprise architecture and end-to-end governance come with a high degree of difficulty, but Tuscany seemingly has made it a snap to stitch together a composite, Web-based service. According to Delfino, the idea is to abstract away the plumbing details using HTML-style annotations and map out the business logic of the service.
Version 1.2 of Tuscany (which also leverages the Service Data Objects specification) has added distributed SCA domain management, an Eclipse plug-in, Atom binding through Apache Abdera project, improved JMS binding and an OSGi runtime. Delfino used Tuscany for a demo of a fruit store which starts with an online catalog and shopping cart. For those functions he used carrot tags to name the components and declare their implementations, properties and bindings. The transport protocols could be switched just by changing a tag, Delfino chose Atompub and JSON-RPC. He noted that he was running the service a Java SE environment, saying “It doesn’t have to run in a big app server. … Basically you have an Ajax app designed as a set of SCA components.” He added the whole process takes about 15 minutes.
Then he showed how to add a new component class (vegetables in this case) and a database, the latter of which involved another Atompub feed. After that he added a third-party supplier to the service by inserting a single SOAP binding line. “You can point to a WSDL if you want or specify policies,” he said.
Finally he showed off some widget functionality Tuscany has added to the SCA process, allowing the service to communicate with HTML.
Of the widget he said, “This is still an SCA component. It still talks to the catalog. You don’t need to change the model to speak to the client side.”
It should be interesting to see what the adoption rate for Tuscany is during the rest of the calendar year, particularly in terms of who uses it, because it comes across as being a fairly simple service creation tool. Basically, if you can handle some basic HTML coding, it would seem you’ve got the savvy to use Tuscany.
If serverside developers and enterprise architects were left feeling forgotten by last year’s JavaOne conference, then they’ll be feeling positively orphaned by this year’s major keynote address.
Sun Microsystems executive vice president for software Rich Green hammered away on how Java provides “a high performance virtual machine” capable of running all your digital life applications. Amazon demonstrated a handheld media devices for downloading and reading books, magazines and newspapers. Sony Ericsson showed off showed off an upcoming unified media device (think iPhone). Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Neil Young stopped by to talk about why he loves Blu-ray technology.
Green did mention that these New Age applications rely upon a foundation of services that can be mashed up, but that was about as close as the session go to enterprise development. Even the GlassFish news revolved around how the OSGi-enabled modularity of v3 will allow GlassFish to become a multimedia app server not solely associated with the server.
Sun president and CEO Jonathan Schwartz claimed his company is “focusing on users.” He threw in enterprises at the end of his list of who those users might be, but it gave the distinct impression that enterprises are becoming a bit of an afterthought with the Java braintrust.
“There’s clearly a battle developing for what will be that next great developer platform,” Schwartz said.
With whom he didn’t say. He also didn’t explain how enterprises will leverage that platform other than RIA development for clients. Sun seems to have a clear picture for where it wants to be in consumer-based digital life in the future. Whether it has a growing vision for how to help enterprises with development problems they have today remains a mystery.
I’m heading out to the JavaOne conference this week and it struck me that Java has had a very quiet year. Two years ago Sun launched Java EE 5 and almost immediately analysts began to call it a heavyweight dinosaur not likely to survive in an SOA world. Sun and others insisted Java would become more modular in the future, but last year Sun concentrated mostly on client development during JavaOne and it’s most momentous move during that past 12 months was to acquire MySQL, which doesn’t exactly point to any new directions for Java.
So what tea leaves can we read? I asked Brad Shimmin over at Current Analysis his thoughts and he said:
My impression with Java’s momentum is that it has reached a point where the platform needs to remain “consistent” top to bottom while affording specialization — much as Spring specialized as an alternative to EJB. I think Java EE 6 heads in this direction greatly with a highly modular approach that lets ISVs certify against particular aspects of the standard. That’s a good thing. Look at GlassFish for a vision of where this whole modularity thing is heading with its use of OSGi.
Well, sure enough, GlassFish v3 has OSGi support and a bunch of cool little subprojects like RESTful Web services, XML pipeline processing and an Ajax UI. Might we see the relationship between OSGi (and probably the Eclipse Foundation) and Java deepen? Now that would be revolutionary. The JCP page on Java EE 6 also mentions that Service Component Architecture could be part of the Java enterprise platform in the future.
Yet it makes you wonder if Java EE 6 has as much to offer the world as GlassFish v4 … or v5 even. Back in 2005, Sun had two hot new kids on the technology block – GlassFish and JBI. While JBI hasn’t gone much of anywhere, Sun continues to push and innovate with GlassFish. Why break a winning streak? What more can be done with the open source application server? Perhaps the biggest news this week won’t be what’s new for Java, but what’s coming up in GlassFish.
One of our sister sites, SearchNetworking.com, just published a story on how networking pros need to collaborate with people on the applications more often these days because service-oriented apps and Web 2.0 technologies put a greater and/or different strains on the network.
The article comes out of an Interop 2008 session and quotes Shankar Ramaswamy, vice president of product management at Sonoa Systems:
“Often, we start talking to customers in the application side of the house,” Ramaswamy said. “And we say: ‘Hey, we need the infrastructure guys to buy into this. Our customers are starting to recognize that this discussion has to happen outside of our technology. We are pushing it along because we are providing something that makes these people collaborate. We urge you to talk to your application people more.’ “
The piece goes on to quote others and talk about why networking pros and app dev pros need to be locked in the same room until they figure out how to work with one another. Mind you, this isn’t revelatory news. I remember writing essentially the same story after talking to users attending the 2002 NetWorld+Interop conference. John Gage declared “the network is the computer” more than 25 years ago. All SOA and Web 2.0 technologies are doing is taking the network up on the offer.
What baffles this observer of the IT industry is why we’re still having this discussion. The connection between an Internet-enabled network that can go anywhere and applications that try to combine disparate systems and data is so blatantly obvious that you’d need to disable all five of your senses to miss it. CIOs should have demanded app dev and networking get on the same page a decade ago. Instead the conversation seemingly revolves around domain pros wondering why folks in the other domain must afflict them so?
There’s no real big secret to that one. It’s because what you do and what they do are intimately tied together. SOA stands for service-oriented architecture, not service-oriented applications. A big part of that architecture is the nervous system that enables the loosely coupled, discoverable services to operate.
We spend a lot of bandwidth these days talking about technology and ROI (or the lack thereof). I’ll hazard a guess, absent any broad-based data to support it, that ROI is as much tied to getting disparate groups like app dev and networking to work with each other as it is to anything else. It gets to the simplistic beauty of Occam’s razor. Why can’t your IT department operate more efficiently? Because it doesn’t. If it did, then you’d likely see faster and bigger ROIs. Obviously levels of collaboration and dysfunction vary company to company, division to division, but far too many people aren’t having this conversation and you know who you are.
When all else fails, you might want to try working with the people with whom you work.
I’ve been having an extended conversation during this calendar year about SOA and the telecom industry, namely that the European telecoms are often the reference models for what a service-oriented business looks like while U.S. telecoms seem to be mired in the 1990s.
Today we’ve got a curious development with the announcement of the OASIS Telecom initiative, designed to help businesses in that industry embrace SOA. It’s a fine idea and somebody needs to do it, but it’s the equivalent of the short bus. I can tell you who this isn’t aimed at: companies like BT and Deutsche Telekom. They get SOA. In fact, they do it as well as anybody on the planet.
This OASIS effort is geared toward U.S. telecoms and telecoms in emerging economies. It begs the question, “How did the U.S. get lumped in with emerging economies?” We’re talking about corporate giants which apparently require extra hand holding to help them do something that has already delivered for their overseas brethren.
As I’ve been talking with analysts, vendors and users this year about the telecom services in the U.S. market, I encounter a lot of head shaking. I keep hearing that the services available in Europe put to shame what’s being offered in the U.S., which they say mostly revolves around access rather than services.
Telecom is probably the industry most worth tracking to see how early SOA adopters are able to compete and respond to market changes as opposed to service-disoriented competitors. To be fair, there are some U.S. telecom companies that have pursued big SOA projects, but I have yet to run into anyone during the last four months, where this has been a running point of curiosity for me, who hasn’t said the U.S. is lagging behind in this industry (at least in terms of modernizing services delivery capabilities), particularly as applications incorporate more Web 2.0 technologies and unified communications.
Kudos to OASIS for trying to spearhead this sort of modernization, but the real point of interest for this observer will be watching the what happens with the telecom players who took the SOA initiative and gave themselves a head start.
In the early days of client/server adoption in the 1990s there were lots of articles lamenting the fact the client/server wasn’t living up to its promise. It was just another theory that didn’t really work all that well in practice.
But after a few years client/server was just the way application development was being done. It wasn’t a theory any more, and too some extent it ceased to be a hot topic for debate. It was old hat.
New technologies including XML, Web services and finally SOA became the hot topics. Of course, as a Gartner Inc. analyst pointed out in a talk a few years ago, SOA pretty much began in the mid-1990s as an extension of client/server.
“Customers were doing SOA then although they weren’t calling it that,” Massimo Pezzini, vice president and distinguished analyst Gartner Inc., said in a 2006 talk. They tended to use the terms of the 1990s for their projects, calling them client/server. Pezzini said that is the secret few SOA gurus want to let out of the bag: SOA is an update of classic client/server.
In a recent article about the problems with SOA adoption, Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC., also credits Gartner with the transformation of client/server into SOA in 1996.
So it seems client/server, which didn’t live up to its promise, has morphed into SOA, which isn’t living up to its promise. But lots of organizations did client/server even if they did it imperfectly, and it appears organizations are now doing SOA albeit imperfectly.
The nature of things humans do is that they are generally not perfect and almost always could be better. With the exception of 4.0 students, most of us got educated imperfectly. The interstate highway system in the U.S. is far from perfect but we’ve been getting around on it for decades. City planning, which Schmelzer says may be the best analogy to SOA because both are always works in progress, does not produce perfect cities. But it could be argued that city planners in many cases help design more liveable and workable cities.
Interviews with CTOs, architects and developers who are actually doing SOA indicates that progress is being made despite the lack of perfection.
In a user story this week Manny Montejano, CTO at Cars.com explained how he is achieving the elusive SOA goal of getting business executives and managers to drive SOA initiatives. But at the same time, he pointed out that his SOA implementation is only about 30 percent of the way to achieving its ultimate goals. And there have been bumps in the road but he views them not as failures but as learning experiences.
“I’m not saying we’ve done everything perfectly every single time from the get-go, which is where our lessons come from,” Montejano said. “We’ve learned lots of lessons specifically that this is a business initiative not an IT/technical initiative.”
Most of the people who are actually doing SOA talk about it in turns of evolution, or to use Schmelzer’s city planning analogy, an on-going project that is always changing and evolving but is never complete.
Shibashis Mukherjee, lead enterprise architect at Con-Way Inc., the transportation company, actually began work in 1996 on what has become his company’s SOA implementation.
In his account of more that a decade of working on the evolution, Mukherjee recalled: “We started with the component-based development methodology. At that time SOA wasn’t the big thing yet. We realized it would help us develop faster if we had reusable components to build applications. As our development process matured and SOA came into play, we figured out how to compose the services.”
Perhaps if SOA is viewed as a process we would be less impatient with its lack of perfection.