IT's Hottest Couple? Open Source and SOA

Loraine Lawson

Integration World is going on in Orlando, Florida this week. Integration World is a conference held by vendor team webMethod and Software AG. If you're curious about what's going on, check out consultant Sandy Kemsley's blog. Kemsley is attending the conference and offering regular updates about the speakers and events.


One of the biggest announcements coming out of Integration World thus far - at least, in terms of trade coverage - is the news that XAware is moving its product, XAware 5, to open source. XAware is a suite a products that includes adapters for connecting to varying data sources. But more significantly, it includes XAware Designer, a drag-and-drop interface programmers use to design and test software, according to Network World.


Open source solutions for SOA are very much in the press these days. In fact, I had been collecting links for a package, but at this point, there's an announcement every other day. This isn't just a trend for SOA or integration, of course. According to a recent Unisphere survey, the number of large organizations who report the majority of their applications as open source rose from 9 percent to 13 percent, with the numbers even higher -- 24 percent - among smaller companies with fewer than 500 employees. The survey also found that 53 percent of companies anticipate their usage of open source will increase next year -- only 2 percent expected it to decrease, says a Computerworld New Zealand article.


My question, then, is this: Is this coupling just a reflection of a general trend to adopt open source, or is there a particularly compelling case for open source and SOA?


That's exactly the question SOA consultant and David Linthicum tackled this week on his InfoWorld blog. Linthicum begins by explaining the significance of the XAware announcement -- a cheaper way for companies to add data abstraction to their SOAs -- but moves on to explain why he's such a proponent of open source solutions for SOA.


His first reason -- they're less expensive -- is pretty much the reason any business goes with open source. True, technologists may be motivated by the philosophical implications, but my impression is that, ultimately, the main business driver is cost.


But his second reason is more intriguing and, given SOA's complexities, perhaps more compelling. Linthicum contends that open source tools for SOA are "typically much more simplistic and easier to understand and use."


Oh, snap!


I'll let you read his column for his full logic on that one. But I will add this: If the flurry of open source announcements is any indicator, vendors must be getting some signs that no one wants to build an SOA only to be locked into proprietary offerings.

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