Sometimes, it takes someone from a different hemisphere to see things differently.
SOA experts here and in the UK are pretty outraged if you mention vendor-specific SOA solutions. "What," they ask, "is the point of having an architecture that frees us from vendor lock-in if you're just going to let a vendor lock you into their version of SOA? SOA needs to be standards-based, not vendor based!"
"In fact," they add with a heavy dollop of condescension, "vendor SOA isn't even really SOA."
I'm not trying to mock. And I'm not saying they're wrong. In fact, I think those are all really good points. I've shared their views on this blog previously.
I'm just saying, they're really passionate about this position. In fact, they're so passionate and so persistent, you may get the impression there isn't another opinion.
That's why, when I saw an article titled "Anarchy hits free-wheeling SOA-land" published on Australian IT today, I had to bring it to your attention.
You see, this article presents a very different viewpoint. It suggests that the lack of standards among users is creating anarchy as services grow. And this anarchy is forcing specialist software companies -- particularly SaaS companies -- to align themselves with the "best practices" of vendors such as SAP, Oracle and -- yes -- Microsoft. I'm guessing that's going to strike a nerve, since some argue Microsoft can't even grasp the concept of SOA, much less serve as a standards model.
Someone forgot to tell these consultants from Australia, it seems.
Of course, to be fair, these aren't unbiased sources -- who is these days? For instance, the man advocating for alignment with vendor best practices is Peter Still, the global vice president of strategy at RuleBurst, an SAP partner.
It's important to note, however, that Still is not voting for vendor lock-in. As I read it, he believes that SOA, by its nature, will eliminate that, forcing small software companies to compete by "investing in specific expertise." As an example, he notes that U.S. tax law is different from Australian tax law - and the providences within the countries require further expertise.
This article offers a lot of interesting observations either I haven't seen or I seldom see. Unfortunately, it starts meandering about a third of the way through, so you may be tempted to abandon it before it ends. So, here are my favorite question-raising observations from the article: