Monday, May 02, 2005


Several of my buds have been giving me a hard time. They're claiming that I've checked out of the SOA world. And as an emerging tech. guy, I'll agree.

You see, from my vantage point - SOA & Web Services have already crossed the 'value' threshold and are ready for adoption (Gartner is wrong.) Dare I say that WS is no longing 'emerging'. We have now entered phase III.

Phase I was basically 'protocol oriented' - with a focus on the WS-I Basic Profile (SOAP, WSDL, UDDI, XML Schema). Phase II was the WS-* stack (the aspect oriented protocols).

Phase III is about the using the darn things. Whacky, eh? You see, I talk with hundreds of companies about their utilization of web services. In most cases they tell me this:
1. We connect fat .Net clients to Java application servers (and use soap in between)
2. We connect to some ASP (like Amazon,, etc.)
3. We front ended some legacy system with services.
The same companies will brag about their rich utilization of UDDI, Fabric, ESB, etc.

However, when I ask about SOA from a reference architecture perspective, I mostly get blank stares. Then, I go to the white board, hand them the marker and say, "draw your architecture and show me where you use services." And in almost every occassion they draw an application architecture which is usually a 3+N (the usual 3 tiers plus roughly N external services - pick your favorite - LDAP, EII, orchestration, etc.)

So after seeing the same thing at several different companies you begin to realize that the world is landing on patterns of usage (and yes, 3+N is the most common). But rather than calling these 'service patterns' or something like that, they are really just architectural patterns (that use services).

Full Circle.
It's true - I'm less interested in watching protocol geeks fight in OASIS about non-sensical issues. We're finally here. We're finally at a point where we can use this stuff to create business value. That said - phase III is all about facilitating the adoption. And yes - expect to see pre-canned architectures that use SOA. But beware - the shift is heading back to 'architecture as a whole' and reviewing the place for SOA / WS in our upgraded world. You see SOA Phase III is really about putting cleaning up our distributed architectures and applying SOA appropriately.

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