SOA lacks fizz for mainstream uptake

A lack of robust support from development tools is hampering service oriented architecture (SOA) adoption and implementations in Australian enterprises.

Despite lip service from vendors and professional services firms, the SOA architectural approach is still not widely understood, according to Gartner.

Speaking at the Application Development, Integration and Web Services Summit (ADIWS) in Sydney today, Gartner research vice president Dion Wiggins said many developers have a grasp of the general concept, but implementation-level patterns and tactics are not widely known.

"And, although vendors are working on the problem, SOA still lacks robust support from development tools," Wiggins said.

"SOA is really designed for systems that interact in a loose, coarse-grain manner. For some systems, the application requirements dictate a more tightly coupled interaction."

Gartner believes that another model is needed to bridge this gap and has dubbed it Service Oriented Development of Applications (SODA).

The research firm predicts that by 2009, more than 85 percent of development platforms will be enabled for SODA-style development.

SODA, which includes the patterns of composite applications, business process management (BPM) and rapid assembly of service-based solutions, is seen as, along with Web Services, essential to making the "agile" organization a reality.

Wiggins said without SODA, efforts to bring SOA into the mainstream market will fail.

"The benefit is that what used to be done by a few leading-edge developers will become a mass-market commonplace practice. The platform will support the coexistence and cooperation of services, Web services and the underlying components," Wiggins said.

"The success or failure of an SOA implementation will hinge on decisions made by application developers.

"SODA heralds a new age of alignment between the needs of the business, the style of the programming and the platforms of deployment."

With the industry still buzzing about SOA in general, Oracle and others are now talking about SOA 2.0.

Oracle officials talked up this next-generation version of SOA at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco last week.

"SOA 2.0 is the term that we're using to talk about the combination of service oriented architecture and event-driven architecture," according to Steve Harris, vice president of Oracle Fusion middleware.

The term, SOA 2.0, is also being championed by Gartner's Yefim Natis, a vice president and distinguished analyst at the firm.

Natis stressed event-driven architecture as the main distinction between SOA 2.0 and the first, client/server-driven iteration of SOA.

"SOA as we know it today deals with a client/server relationship between software modules," with services being subroutines serving clients, Natis said. "However, not all business processes and software topologies fit this model."

With SOA 2.0, an event-driven architecture is deployed in which software modules are related to business components, and alerts and event notifications are featured.

Oracle is still is not climbing aboard the Sun Microsystems-driven NetBeans community for open source tools, but is sticking with its strategy of accommodating the rival Eclipse platform and Oracle's own JDeveloper tool. - with Paul Krill

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