There's a tendency to think of IBM and Oracle, the JEE and open source communities, and academia and cloud computing when researching service-oriented architecture (SOA). But as some analysis I am finishing up this month has illustrated, Microsoft speaks SOA too. It is not as loud about SOA in terms of market message and consortia sponsorship as the others, but Microsoft has been active in the WS* world and also recognizes that the word services in SOA does not just mean Web services.
My source was Kris Horrocks, senior technical product manager in Microsoft's Connected Systems division (part of Server and Tools, I think). He contends, and I concur, that BizTalk and the .NET Framework are becoming SOA underpinnings in enterprises just as often as JEE and other middleware. And he says heterogeneous IT shops are going the other way as well: using Microsoft-tool-related services on top of non-Microsoft SOA frameworks.
The mix and match approach, which I call "open choice," is the key to overcoming SOA's biggest stumbling block: not enough services to need a bus, hardly enough to require a taxi.
Some upcoming IT Business Edge articles based on my research deliverables will speak more to Microsoft's approach but Horrocks' comments on what holds SOA back deserve some attention from IT managers and staff.
1. It's OK to dance with the girl that brung ya, but stick with first-generation infrastructure choices only if they can deliver the full benefits of SOA. (That dance thing is my metaphor -- not Horrocks' -- in honor of spending Saturday with my nephew and a bunch of other high school seniors moving directly from a state track meet to the prom.)
2. If you want the complete freedom that SOA can provide, users need to institute supplier-relationship and IT-culture changes as well as technology changes. And they are always the hardest part of implementing any new software functionality.