Vendor agreement on specs likely to boost SOA adoption


A move by 18 technology vendors to release key service oriented architecture (SOA) specifications to an international e-business standards body will boost the adoption of SOA in the enterprise, industry insiders say.

Earlier this week, members of Open SOA collaboration said they would formally hand over vital service component architecture (SCA) and Service Data Objects (SDO) specifications to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a non-profit consortium of more than 5,000 participants focused on the development of e-business standards.

SOA is a technology deployment model in which loosely coupled services respond to the requirements of business processes and users. The approach makes resources available as independent services that can be accessed without knowledge of their underlying platform implementation.

This method also enables the development of reusable software and services SCA provides defining models to create and assemble service components to build SOAs, while SDO delivers a consistent method for data handling within SOA applications.

However, lack of common standards between various vendors is a big challenge to the adoption of SOA by many organizations, according to one Canadian analyst. “It has been difficult for most enterprise organizations to get the full benefit of SOA because of this interoperability issue,” said Curtis Gittens, senior analyst, Info-Tech Research Group Inc., based in London, Ont. “The release of these specifications will make it easier for IT administrators working in mixed vendor environments to implement SOA initiatives,” he added.

Since November 2005, Open SOA companies have been working on new industry specifications aimed at simplifying SOA application development.

Companies that have joined forces in this project include IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems and others.

The partnering companies see this as a watershed event, as does OASIS. “This is a big step forward for our customers,” said Karla Norsworthy, vice-president, software standards, IBM.

The goal is “the broadest possible industry adoption [of SOA] through education and implementation efforts,” said Patrick Ganon, president and CEO of OASIS This ongoing move to promote adoption of SOA among enterprises across the board is already paying off.

According to consultancy firm Forrester Research Inc. nearly 77 per cent of large enterprises actively implemented SOAs by the end of 2006. While the release of SCA and SDO specifications is expected to accelerate this adoption, some “roadblocks’ still remain, according to Gittens.

The new specs “lower the barrier to interoperability, but doesn’t remove it,” he said. “Specifications are really just guidelines. Vendors will always tend to add their own secret sauce to differentiate their products from the competition.”

Gittens suggested that for some companies might benefit more if they “develop an SOA environment on an exclusive platform rather than a mixed one.”


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