Sunday, October 23, 2005

SOA Boot Camp: Days 10, 11 & 12

Day 10 was the culmination of a lot of hard work; we took all that we had learned about clients, services, intermediaries, architecture, design and pulled it all together under the 'composite application' umbrella. Deborah Scharfetter, VP of Products from Above All Software walked us through the advanced features of their application composition suite.

Above All definitely understands the idea of rapid composition. Their suite in some ways looks like a 'service oriented powerbuilder'. They have some interesting design concepts in the product: 1. Leverage SOA whenever possible, but don't punish the user if SOA isn't possible 2. Make it easy to tap into packaged applications (SAP, Siebel, etc.) 3. Leverage WYSIWYG concepts to enable rapid development 4. Assume that there will be multiple delivery channels (thin client, portlet, rich client, mobile client, etc.) 5. Services will be combined with other services to create composite services, which in turn will be exposed to the service network.

For some reasons "SOA" doesn't seem to hit home until people see a user interface on it. Composite applications seems to create that 'aha' momentum for many.

Day 11 focused mostly on managing & monitoring services in an operational environment. Jason Hollander and Chris Bowlds from Actional went over their SOAPstation and Looking Glass products. Both products looked strong. It was also clear that Actional was taking a stronger interest in the security side of equation than many of the other vendors. SOAPstation has been carefully designed to do both fine grained and coarse grained access control. This is in addition to a real nice UI for quickly adding in ws-sec attributes (signature, encryption,etc.)

The Looking Glass product focuses on the monitoring of services. The product appears to be well designed and full-featured. However it is unclear to me how it will compete/complement with the Tivoli/BMC/HP trio. I really like what Actional has done I just see a potential crash course with the big three. For now, they'll have no trouble fending them off - their offering is advanced and buyers that need a solution today will find an easy answer.

Day 12 we split into teams and continued building out some of our reference architectures. We are close to finishing our SOA Security Reference Architecture - we just need to add a bit more around fine grained access and vulnerability detection. We also made progress in knocking out an XML Firewall Buyers Guide (we'll publish it soon). Lastly, we did a first draft on our 'SOA Operations Management Reference Architecture' and 'SOA Presentation and Channels Reference Architecture' (plenty more to do here!)

By the end of the day on Saturday - we all were starting to feel like this was really a 'boot camp'. We're tired - we all hopped on planes and headed home to see our families. We'll kick it back in gear on Tuesday...

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