Composite Apps, Mashups and SOA Express

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Two items caught my attention this week.


The first is from Gregor Hohpe, a software architect with Google and co-author of Enterprise Integration Patterns. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of Web services and SOA, Hohpe is your guy. He's got an easy-going writing style, but he explores the how-to of the technology, rather than the more strategic overview.


This week, he wrote about his experience at Mashup Camp in Silicon Valley. He offers an insider's view into mashups, noting that there's some unresolved personality conflict in the mashup "community" over whether it wants to be a bit anti-establishment or apply for venture capital funding.


One picture that emerged from Mashup Camp is that mashups are definitely being used for integration. Workers from IBM and SnapLogic demonstrated mashup data processing tools that Hohpe reports shared similarities with early EAI tools.


Hohpe participated in a discussion group on enterprise mashups. The group determined there's not a clear-cut difference between mashups and composite apps, so they compiled a list to help distinguish the two. I know I've either read or been told recently that composite apps and mashups are the same thing, so I was particularly interested in how the group managed to define each.


Here's how the group separated mashups from composite applications, taken straight from Hohpe's article:

  • Mashups: REST/XML, ad-hoc, bottom-up, easy to change, low expectations, built by user
  • Composite Apps: SOA/WS-*, planned, top-down, more static, (too) high expectations, built by IT

(We'll see if it sticks. What usually happens is about half the people who follow this sort of thing adopt the first definition as the only definition, but others redefine the terms and the definition evolves. That results in endless pedantic discussions about who's right and - usually - people calling me out for being a clueless journalist when I don't use their preferred definition. But I digress.)


There's a lot more to the post, including a glimpse of what vendors and developers are doing with mashups, Hohpe's own mashup tutorials and experiments.


If mashups aren't your thing, the second item is this article about an intriguing SOA-related announcement.


Micro Focus is now offering SOA Express, a product that will take existing code -- say, code in Cobol -- and convert it into services.


It's important to note that, despite the name, this is not a boxed solution for SOA. Instead, it's designed to let development teams focus on creating new services instead of converting old code.


The senior director for product management at Micro Focus is quoted as saying that in one case, SOA Express reduced the conversion time from six weeks to two hours.


Happy weekend.