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Kiran Garimella's BPM Blog

David Ogren

SOA versus Web 2.0

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Continuing my "SOA versus" theme, I really enjoyed Daryl Plummer's "Web Services At A Crossroads" article in Optimize magazine. In the article Daryl, a Gartner fellow, describes the conflict between the enterprise architects that are using web services as the platform for Service Oriented Architecture and the Web 2.0 architects that are using web services to build mash-ups, AJAX, and other consumer oriented applications.

One of the points that Daryl specifically mentions is how the desire by SOA architects to use web services for enterprise applications is driving the increasing complexity of the WS-* set of standards. He suggests that if you are looking for a enterprise-level distributed-transaction environment you should look to a real distributed transaction system rather than waiting for the WS-* standards needed to support that level of functionality.

I can't be the first one to see the parallel to EJBs in the Java world. When EJBs were added to Java they were designed to support this enteprise level of functionality. And as a result there was a lot of complexity in using EJBs. The problem with EJBs was that only a very small percentage of applications actually needed this enterprise functionality. And so, EJBs developed a very bad reputation as overly complex. And an entire movement demanding a more simplistic model emerged and the EJB model is now struggling to complete with more simplistic POJO-based systems.

I see the same thing happening in the Web Services world. The WS-* crowd is trying to meet the needs of enterprise SOA architects, but they are alienating the mainstream web services developers with their complexity. Not to mention the bickering that's going on in the standards bodies which scares people aware by making them worry about which standards will "win". One of the things that I like about ESBs is that they can encapsulate some of this complexity. The bus can abstract out some of the complexity and the services can just be services.

Let's learn from the past for once. Let's not let web services be another EJB debacle or compatability challenged CORBA. Let simplicity rule the standards and let the infrastructure manage the complexity.

Afterword: After typing this up, I see that Elizabeth Book commented on this article a couple of weeks ago. Not sure how I missed her post, but better late than never.

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