Recently we polled SearchSOA.com site members on their RIA and composite application plans. What we discovered is there’s a massive overlap between the SOA and RIA audiences.
In all we received 395 responses and 44% said rich Internet applications were part of their enterprise IT/business strategy. Another 30% reported that RIA would become part of that strategy in 2008. 85% reported that RIA was an important to extremely important piece of their SOA strategy. Only 2% said RIA wasn’t important at all to their SOA plans.
Most strikingly, 74% reported they expect the importance of RIA to their IT/business goals to increase this year. In other words, for 3/4 of our survey respondents, RIA is a big deal that will be getting bigger. Rich Web front ends were the most popular type of app being built or planned (79%), with Ajax (81%) being the most popular technology employed to build those apps. Yet 55% also reported they are building/planning database composite applications and 35% reported they have entered or will enter the fairly new space of enterprise mashups. That’s a fairly massive amount for a category that would have been in the low single digits two years ago.
Oddly, mobile apps only drew a 29% response rate. That could be read a few different ways. Our respondents were mostly senior folks in the app dev or IT department. It’s possible rich mobile development is being done outside their auspices. Yet the fact that the more senior people in the app dev arena aren’t connected to it would also mean that rich mobile development hasn’t become a major enterprise initiative. The other way to read it is that mobile devices have yet to become a major business initiative. In fact, mashups using unified communications might be the path that mobile devices take rather than strict mobile app development.
The top two benefits sought by those building out rich/composite apps were improving the user experience for customer facing apps/services (65%) and providing expected levels of business functionality to end users (61%). Lack of internal knowledge/resources ranked as the number one obstacle to adopting Web 2.0 technologies (21%). It also ranked high as a secondary issue (35%). Yet a whole host of issues fell in the 27-38% range for secondary issues: techinical readiness/back-end support, selecting the right technologies, security, data/application integration issues and application performance issues.
Finally, IT management ranked as the top evangelist (28%), technical decision maker (34%) and financial decision maker (40%) when it comes to Web 2.0 technologies. Yet an interesting person ranked second in evangelism (27%) and technical decision making (26%) – the architect. Maybe this has something to do with polling the membership of an SOA site, but it speaks to how architecture is becoming a primary concern in all applications work these days.
It should be remembered that for years analysts have been saying that a primary benefit of pursuing SOA is to get ready for whatever comes next, to be able to deploy new technologies on top of the existing IT infrastructure in a way that makes sense. It would seem from our survey that those predictions are now taking shape in reality. RIA is happening parallel to and in conjunction with SOA and it looks like many users will have interesting stories to tell later in the year.
At EclipseCon this week, the Eclipse Foundation announced that it is forming a new open source community project “to develop and promote open source runtime technology based on Equinox, a lightweight OSGi-based runtime.”
Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, told SearchSOA that this is important news for architects and developers working on service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects for three reasons:
- “OSGi itself and Equinox as its implementation has a service-oriented component to it. It is a technology that you use to pull together services in a runtime.
- “EclipseLink, which provides persistence to enterprise applications for storing either relational data or XML Schema supports the acronyms enterprise architects love like FDO [Feature Data Objects]. You can get implementations of that specification through EclipseLink.
- “It is part of the Eclipse Swordfish project, which is a full SOA runtime.”
When Swordfish was announced earlier this year, Anne Thomas Manes, research director for Burton Group Inc., said OSGi added “real value” and is a good fit for the Eclipse plug-in philosophy.
“There’s a lot of nice features to OSGi,” Manes told SearchSOA. “You deliver software in something called a bundle. As part of the bundle it identifies the manifest of all the things that are in there and also identifies the dependencies that this code has. Then the OSGi runtime can look at it and say in order to deploy this I have to get these things that are listed in the dependencies, and get those installed first. It’s a very clean and elegant way to package stuff up. The idea here is that you are going to package up services using OSGi.”
There is currently a discussion thread on TheServerSide.com regarding Equinox, EclipseLink, OSGi and its relation to the Java Community Process work on the Java Persistence API (JPA 2.0).
Rumor has it that the SOA market is on the brink of another wave of acquisitions. Oracle opened the year with its purchase of BEA Systems, but the move has yet to touch off much of anything in the way response. Possibly part of that is the deal took two major buyers off the market while Oracle ingests BEA.
Yet another part of that is the economy. Would-be buyers want to make sure they’re making smart acquisitions. What sort of revenue stream are they picking up and how much is that worth? First quarter financial results loom as a major influence in answering those two questions. That’s where the March Madness kicks in.
A niche player who can post a strong first quarter could position itself as the “gotta have it” item on the SOA market. You users out there might be thinking, “Big deal, this doesn’t really affect me.” Yet it does. If those vendors are hungry enough for quick revenue, they might be cutting some handsome deals over the next two weeks in order to pump up those balance sheets. Users might be able to land some best-of-breed technology at a discount and then have a large vendor step into place to provide ongoing support for that technology.
We know Iona Technologies is up for sale. Many larger vendors have data services and SOA testing gaps. Does HP look to flesh out its management story? Does SAP make a move into BPM? What can Tibco, Software AG and Progress Software do to push themselves over that $1 billion revenue mark? Are RIA, composite application and enterprise mashup technologies where the money is in the current market?
Don’t be surprised to see some clearance prices out there. The looming consolidation in the SOA space could create a buyer’s market.
Service-oriented architecture (SOA) expertise is still not available off-the-shelf.
That’s the reason Red Hat Inc. bought Amentra Inc., a integration services provider headquartered in Richmond, VA., which specializes in providing SOA knowledge transfer for its clients. In making this deal, Red Hat is betting that Amentra can provide the consulting services needed to support JBoss, the middleware company Red Hat acquired two years ago.
In a recent Q&A interview at JBoss World, Craig Muzilla, vice president of middleware business at Red Hat, talked about the pain points organizations run into when tackling SOA.
In an interview after the Amentra deal closed this week, Muzilla stressed how important SOA expertise is to the middleware market in general and JBoss in particular. He said companies making the transition from legacy mainframe or client/server to SOA often lack the expertise in-house to do the job.
“Amentra has a unique methodology focused around knowledge transfer,” he said. “Not only do they help design SOA and help the customer do some projects and implement project, but they also transfer that knowledge so the customer can be more self-sufficient.”
Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC. agreed that knowledge transfer is one of the strengths Amentra adds to Red Hat and JBoss. Saying that this acquisition is “a perfect fit for Red Hat,” he noted that existing consulting services for JBoss had relied heavily on partnerships, and were not a match for the consulting services offered by the larger SOA vendors, such as IBM. The Amentra acquisition will begin to help close that gap.
Providing consulting in support of JBoss may be critical if Red Hat is too rearch its announced goal of capturing 50 percent of the enterprise middleware market by 2015.
In the blogsphere, Red Hat has received some criticism for its marketing of the JBoss products, which Muzilla sought to clear up earlier this week on Dana Blankenhorn’s ZDNet blog.
After the Amentra deal was announced, Larry Dignan, also blogging on ZDNet, wrote: “The deal, announced Thursday, gives Red Hat some foot soldiers to sell the company’s stack of software including JBoss. which has been a tough sell.”
Of course, Amentra is not on a par with something like IBM Global Services.
Shimmin notes that Amentra is based on the East Coast and that is where most of its clients are located, although it is doing work as far West as Chicago and Texas. The company is looking at expanding further West to the Pacific Coast. Plans to have any European or international operations seem to fall into the yet-to-be-determine category.
Marketers in the service-oriented architecture (SOA) world seem to be falling all over each other to make their new products Web 2.0 buzzword compliant.
Although Web 2.0 is a dubious term technically since there is no real Web 2.0. It is a clever catchall phrase for the more glitzy browser applications that emerged originally with wikis, and blogs, as well as Podcasts, which is another buzzword for downloadable digital audio files.
A chart of Google Trends data on Web searches indicates that Web 2.0 first came on the scene in mid-2004, when SOA was already flying high as a frequently searched topic. But after sliding under the radar for the next year, Web 2.0 took off like a rocket in late 2005 and surpassed SOA in the fourth quarter of 2006. Since then Web 2.0 has been the more popular term.
So it is perhaps not surprising that marketers are hyping their Web 2.0 capabilities in product announcements.
This week in announcing OpenLibertyJ , its open sourcing of Liberty Alliance security and privacy framework the major emphasis was on Web 2.0. SOA got only one mention in passing.
Asked why the big emphasis on Web 2.0, Brett McDowell, executive director, Liberty Alliance, said: “From my perspective service-oriented architecture is a concept that immediately resonates and gives you a vision of applications if you’re an enterprise architect. Web 2.0 gives you a vision of applications that are taking the Web by storm. What we wanted to use is the term that’s going to convey the correct expectation of what this framework is meant to enable.”
But that didn’t mean OpenLibertyJ had little or nothing to do with SOA.
“It absolutely enables the identity bus for SOA,” McDowell said. “But I think a broader audience understands the vision of Web 2.0.”
Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst for ZapThink LLC., was asked if this explanation was more about marketing or technology.Replying by email, Bloomberg wrote: “Technically correct or marketingese? Well, both. 100% marketingese with just enough truth mixed in :-).”
The Liberty Alliance is not alone in hitching a product wagon to the Web 2.0 star. Since 2006, Oracle Corp. has been talking about the convergence of the Java Enterprise Edition and Web 2.0 into something Thomas Kurian, Oracle’s senior vice president, called SOA 2.0.
That term does not appear to have caught on, as a request to Google Trends brought back this reply: “Your terms – SOA 2.0 – do not have enough search volume to show graphs.”
In 2007, Oracle began using the term Enterprise 2.0 for the Java, SOA and Web 2.0 convergence that is bringing wikis, blogs and social networks into the corporate world. Since first appearing on Google Trends charts in the fourth quarter of 2006, Enterprise 2.0 has been a hotter topic in Web searches than SOA 2.0. But when compared with SOA and Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 is still a flat line under their arcs.
If Oracle with its marketing muscle cannot get SOA 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 off the ground, we may be stuck with Web 2.0, nebulous as it may be.
Discussing IBM’s SOA and Web 2.0 marketing strategy this week, Stephanie Martin, new worldwide lead for IBM Developer Relations, which includes more than 6 million coders who frequent the developerWorks Website, says she believes the two terms can play well together.
“They’re both very hot topics in the market right now,” Martin said. “In order to have the Web 2.0 experience, SOA is critical for designing and architecting these applications. That’s where I see the link between SOA and Web 2.0. Certainly they are not the same thing. SOA is the enabler of Web 2.0 but I do not see one replacing the other. We’re seeing our community’s interest in both those technologies growing consistently.”
So it appears SOA and Web 2.0 will have to co-exist as buzzwords, at least, until the next hot term is coined.
I was looking at the IBM Impact 2008 site and between the cascading images of Drew Carey and the B-52’s it dawned on me that SOA has arrived.
Say what you will about the imperial excess IBM has planned for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas next month, but Big Blue is not the type to throw around its cash like a young rapper with a hit record. IBM’s always been a buttoned-down operation. It’s not shelling out for Hollywood A-list comedians and multi-platinum selling bands on a whim. Rest assured, the only reason it’s writing the fat check for this event is because it’s making a fatter pile of money on its SOA business.
Impact is an SOA show. It doesn’t pretend to be anything but a deep dive into service orientation. Last year in Orlando IBM turned out roughly 4,000 attendees for Impact, making it easily the biggest service-oriented architecture event in history. If anything, the Vegas Impact conference looks ready to dwarf it. While it may not be quite as large as the Interop show slated for later in the spring, that one vendor can assemble that much humanity for one technology track is beyond impressive.
The event boasts 220 customer presentations. Think about that, it’s more customers than you see at a lot of shows and we’re only talking speakers.
A lot of us folk in the media play this game about when SOA will “arrive,” when it will enter the majority adoption phase? Well I’ve got a Drew Carey, B-52’s, MGM Grand, 220 customer speakers, and thousands of attendees that says SOA already has arrived … and it’s about to get the kind of platform we haven’t seen in the IT industry since the heady days of the dot-com boom. Some may say Impact exhibits more of the signs of the irrational exuberance of the dot-com heyday, but we’re not talking about some flash-in-the-pan vendor trying to gin up business in a red-hot economy. This is old money putting on the ritz during what is tantamount to a recession.
The appropriate response, after “Wow!”, should be “Looks like IBM’s making buckets of money on this SOA thing.” And if IBM’s making that kind of coin, it means a whole pile of users are hip-deep into their SOA installations. That should only become clearer next month as a few thousand people are shaking it to “Dance This Mess Around”.
We at SearchSOA.com have just finished up with the maiden run of our “Pragmatic SOA Governance” seminar. The first two shows were in suburban Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and I’m pleased to report they went swimmingly.
Here’s a few of the high points from the show:
- Anne Thomas Manes, VP and research director at Burton Group, noted that a lot of users want to standardize on a single enterprise service bus, neglecting the reality that most every company will need to support multiple ESBs. She also suggested not thinking of the ESB as a “bus” because it implies that there’s something in the middle of your services. Instead she suggested the term enterprise service network.
- Miko Matsumura, deputy CTO at Software AG, used the image of a crack pipe to illustrate a point during his presentation, namely that bad development habits can be hard to kick.
- Daud Santosa, CTO at the National Business Center inside the U.S. Department of the Interior, made a great point about choosing foundational pieces of technology — if the technology in question requires consistent and costly upkeep, then it shouldn’t be a foundational piece of technology. “This is hard enough,” he said, pointing to the detailed reference architecture he’s trying to implement at NBC. “Look for technology that makes your life easier.”
- Dan Foody, VP of Actional products at Progress Software, made a great observation in response to a question on how can you sell your business on the merits of SOA: take a sales course. His reasoning was you need to describe what service orientation means to your business and outside IT fiefdoms and that will require real professional sales skills.
- Many attendees bemoaned the communications difficulties that plague IT projects, but Matsumura offered that there is a common language everyone speaks: money. The line drew a hearty laugh from the Reston attendees, but later one person from the audience mentioned to me that the “money” line helped crystallize what he needs to do to get executive buy-in.
- John Woolbright, CTO at Synovus Financial Corp., noted that many real-time systems are undone due to a lack of data quality. He suggested defining systems of record for data. “If you want your SOA to be successful you need to know where that data is and how to access it.”
- Foody stressed creating visibility not only into the IT infrastructure, but to the business process itself. Failure to provide that visibility can lead you down the path of applications that don’t deliver as promised for the business, he noted.
- Manes continually stressed the importance of getting a handle on the producer/consumer relationship inside SOA as a key element for governance. Apparently too many users are running into problems caused by unchecked service consumption.
Most of all, a hearty thanks to our attendees. Rarely do you see audiences that are anywhere near that engaged during the presentations. It served as reminder that the practical implementation of SOA governance has become a pressing concern for app dev and IT shops.
Our sister site, TSS.com has got a spirited discussion going about WSDLs, REST, XML, JSON and Java APIs. Some are arguing “the best WSDL is no WSDL at all.”
I recently ran into an architect who was trying to wrap his head around SOA. He had sorted out most of it, but one thing was gnawing at him: what makes for a good WSDL?
Obviously that can change dependent on the service in question, but it dawned on me that a good set of examples would be in order. Thomas Erl has listed some essentials for what should be in a service description:
- the service endpoint
- each service operation
- every input and output message supported by each operation
- the data representation model of each message’s contents
- rules and characteristics of the service and its operations
That’s a great starting point, but it’s no substitute for the finished product. Fortunately there is a reservoir of WSDL expertise out there, namely you, or at least some of you who are reading this. What we’re looking for is your WSDL examples. Send them to us and we’ll publish them so that other architects and developers will have some concrete examples to reference.
It can be WSDL 2.0 or WSDL 1.1. If some of you have tried to use WADL for REST-based services, we’re interested in that as well. You should include an explainer of why you made the choices you did and any key takeaways for those who are referencing your example. What we’ll do is create a specific spot on the SearchSOA.com site for all the submissions, a working WSDL resource center.
Enough people are doing this that we ought to provide them with guidance on how to do it well. You can e-mail submissions directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was talking with Wayne Ariola, Parasoft’s vice president of strategy and corporate development, last week about the concept of SOA quality. Parasoft’s been using the term “SOA quality” as part of the latest rollout of its SOAtest product, which now is able to query UDDI registries so that WSDL verification tests can be performed at the time they’re published.
Quality is a key element in software development and it should go without saying that the more business that gets pumped through Web services, the more important it will be to have a good QA process in place for those services. Noting that “lack of central visibility” is normal in the classic software development lifecyle, Ariola listed what he thinks are key elements in that SOA quality process.
1. SOA necessitates centralization, a role played by the registry/repository. He argued that stovepipes become inevitable without it.
2. A health check needs to be performed to make sure the asset meets the requirements. Among the potential requirements, he highlighted defining the asset’s consistency and the boundaries for its reuse.
3. You need a convenient way to emulate the service. Taking down a component could cause unintended chaos once it’s being leveraged in multiple places. Testing and changes are best handled in the virtual arena in order to avoid that trap.
4. If a component or service is going to reused, the testing expectations need to be made readily available so that different orchestration scenarios can be vetted. In general the testing environment should be as open and accessible as possible.
5. Make sure you fully and accurately define your SLAs, future users of that service will need to understand the true behavior expectations behind it.
6. Be prepared to do some sort of compliance monitoring in order to make sure your services are being properly used.