IBM Rides to the Defense of SOA

Michael Vizard

When it comes to application development these days, there's a lot of interest in emerging technologies for integrating applications such as RESTful application programming interfaces or simple URL linking. As a result, there's a school of thought emerging that says these lighter-weight approaches to middleware will effectively replace more traditional service-oriented architectures (SOA) in many instances.

But Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Software, says that, in reality, these new approaches to middleware are nothing more than extensions to SOA. More often than not, Mills says RESTful APIs and other forms of lightweight middleware are calling out to modular external services that were built using traditional forms of SOA.

At the IBM Impact 2012 conference today IBM took pains to position the release of WebSphere Application Server 8.5, codenamed "Liberty," as the foundational component for a series of middleware upgrades that all serve to make SOA more accessible.

According to Marie Wieck, general manager for IBM application and integration middleware, WebSphere is not only significantly faster with this release, its footprint is much smaller. In addition to WebSphere 8.5, IBM also announced updates to its MQ middleware, WebSphere Message Broker, IBM Business Process Manager software and Operational Decision Management software.

Wieck says all of these products make use of SOA at the core because that's what defines good design these days. Whether developers continue to recognize SOA as distinct methodology may be debatable. But at the end of the day, IBM clearly sees those technologies as part of a larger service continuum that subscribes to the same modular set of reusable services concepts defined by SOA no matter what they ultimately wind up being called.

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