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A spotlight is brightly focused on SOA. Why is there is so much heat in the whole SOA and middleware space at the moment? The reason is simple but profound: We are going through a major change in design centers!

For most of the last 30 years, applications have dominated the design center. The industry architected solutions around applications; some even architected business processes around applications. Applications have been the center of the software universe and everything has revolved around them. However, with the advent of the Internet and then the Web Service standards, a whole new thinking is starting to pervade. The radical thought is Copernican in nature. Applications are in fact just planets in a solar system. The real design center is the network and applications revolve around it.

With this, I see five major themes emerging.

1. SOA – The Driver to Simplicity and Openness

There are a lot of definitions about what is and isn’t a SOA. Customers are expecting a simpler, easier way to create the software services that match their business needs. Core to this is the support for the open industry Web Services Stack. This point has now been accepted by all, and mature Web services platforms are enabling simplified, declarative programming models largely enabled by the underlying open standards.

2. SOA Meets Wiki, RSS and AJAX:

SOA is on the border between the formal and informal worlds of computing. On the implementation side (or the inward-facing side) of a SOA is the usual cluster of enterprise technologies: transactions, security, reliability and so on. On the outward-facing side are all the informal, loosely-coupled aspects of a service – its self-describing nature, its natural integration with Internet technologies, its high level description of business services.

This duality in SOA applications provides the perfect model for solving the challenges highly distributed development imposes on human-to-human communication during design-time. The right tools to design and manage all the human aspects of SOA look more like a Wiki than a formal database. Real people need to build and manage SOAs, and a service should make as much sense to a business user as it should to a developer. The Wiki metaphor (and its implementation) is the perfect vehicle for sharing and managing SOA artifacts across an organization. Then if anyone makes a change to a service that you are interested in, RSS should be able to inform you when that happens and you can make any necessary changes.


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