SOA consultant and blogger David Linthicum sang the praises of open source SOA software this week at InfoWorld. He's back from the SOA World Conference in San Jose, Calif., where the most frequently asked question was about open source versus proprietary tools.
Linthicum sided with open source solutions because they're less expensive, simpler to use and understand and, really, he reasoned most people don't really need all the whiz-bang stuff promised by big-vendor stack solutions.
You can read his full arguments here.
What was really interesting and revealing to me, however, was this response by "Mad Geek" Mike Kavis to Linthicum's post.
Kavis is a CTO/chief architect who blogs at IT Toolbox. I keep up with his blog, which is excellent, but I don't often quote him because he frequently veers too far into the technical for this blog's mission.
I appreciate that Kavis frequently talks less about how things "should" be and more about how things really are. He's a reality check in a blog world that sometimes gets a bit too high-minded and theoretical.
Kavis agreed whole hog with Linthicum, urging his readers to explore open source SOA tools before investing in big-vendor stack solutions. He has tried both and his experience is the big-vendor solutions just aren't as integrated as they should be:
On a previous enterprise wide SOA initiative, I drank the cool-aid [sic] that the vendor stack was an integrated stack and was simpler to deploy and manage over a stack of a mix of vendors. What I found out is that the mega vendors (IBM, Oracle, etc.) have bought so many pure play tools (rules engines, BPMs tools, data services and MDM tools, governance tools, etc.) that the smooth integration ends when the PowerPoint decks are closed.
I love that bit about integration ending when the PowerPoint decks close. Maybe vendors should start marketing that as a new type of solution: Integration by PowerPoint.
Large vendors have grown through technology acquisition and the integration work hasn't kept up, according to Kavis. This caused him very real problems at work:
The underlying architecture of each tool within the stack is completely different and there are very few people (if any) within the organization who understands the complete stack. In fact, we were dealing with two very different organizations when dealing with support and they were not in sync. Eventually the entire company was consumed by another mega vendor (you can probably guess which acquisition this was) and the whole product roadmap was turned upside down.
So Kavis is all for trying open source tools for SOA. The post included a run-down of his favorite open source SOA tools.
Even if open source isn't "your thing," you owe it to yourself and your organization to read Kavis' piece. Look at it this way: Reading his post will take considerably less time than the numerous calls you'll make to customer service if you encounter the same problems Kavis experienced.