One of the most familiar axioms of IT marketing relates to buzzwords. It goes like this: A buzzword peters out in the market at just about the same point in time when real instances of whatever the buzzword signifies begin to appear in businesses. 2008 looks like that point in time for service-oriented architecture (SOA).
After pounding on the term SOA for over five years, IT suppliers are rolling out replacement acronyms such as SOA 2.0, Web Oriented Architecture (WOA), the Semantic SOA (SSOA) and especially Representational State Transfer (ReST). But real-life SOA implementations are just finishing their pilot phases.
What explains the delay? The easy answer is human nature; everyone wants to make sure they are using the latest/greatest, and something that's five years old can't be the latest or greatest, can it? But the technical reason is that until recently, there were very few services. There were buses to transport enterprise services, better known as ESBs, and agreements by which to agree on service levels, better known as SLAs. There were services orchestrators and services choreographers. But basically, there weren't enough services to choreograph and orchestrate and so few services that they could all fit into a taxi, not needing a bus.
That is changing in the first four months of 2008.
According to Oracle, after piloting the Oracle SOA Suite, Tucson Electric Power Company expects to implement and integrate new applications 36 percent faster and reduce time spent on supporting and maintaining the system by 50 percent. Oracle SOA Suite helps establish a framework of reusable components that allows the utility to simplify integration between additional work management applications and other back-office systems - eliminating the requirement for custom, "hard-wired" interfaces.
Similarly, SAP and IDS Scheer announced an expansion of their strategic partnership that will let customers take a model and process-centric approach to the implementation of service-enabled business applications from SAP. Through the integration of the Enterprise Services Repository of SAP NetWeaver and ARIS technology from IDS Scheer, customers will be able to more quickly identify and deliver services to add to the SAP repository.
The SAP software itself has been recently decomposed into hundreds of services. (The SAP/Scheer announcement was made at CeBIT 2008, held in Hanover, Germany, March 4-9, and more "enterprise SOA" announcements have been promised for the upcoming series of SAP Sapphire user group conventions, starting the week of May 5.)
Of course, IT staffs can also write their own services, but there really has not been a lot of that happening over the years since the SOA drum roll started. Another axiom of IT marketing says everyone has to wait until the applications guys catch up.
If you have been writing your own services over the last half decade, not waiting for your supplier, drop us an e-mail; we'd like to hear about your experiences for use in upcoming research articles.