Paper Can Help You Sort Out SOA Standards


Do you need help sorting out the various architectural standards for SOA? Not sure if you're an an OASIS, OMG or The Open Group kinda company?


Wouldn't it be nice if there were a quick Facebook quiz to help you sort it out?


Alas, while Facebook quizzes can help you determine your animal spirit or how long you would survive in a horror film, there's no such quick quiz for determining which set of SOA standards would work for you. That's the bad news.


The good news: There's now a free whitepaper that can help called, "Navigating the SOA Open Standards Landscape Around Architecture."


All three groups -- OMG, The Open Group and OASIS -- collaborated on the 27-page document, which is written to help you understand the standards' strengths and how they complement each other. It's also meant as a guide to help you determine which group's technical products will work best for you. More specifically, the paper compares SOA reference models, reference architectures, maturity models, ontologies, modeling languages and governance specifications.


As an added bonus, the introduction adds that a secondary goal was to get the three groups started on the path of collaboration. The press release I received included this lovely quote about collaboration by Duane Nickull of Adobe, who is the chair of the OASIS SOA Reference Model Technical Committee:

"We recognize the value of cooperative, inter-organizational SOA standards development. The SOA paradigm is huge, and there is much work to be done. Coordination between groups ensures that related SOA standards will work together without unnecessary overlap, contradiction or redundancy."

I'm not going to lie to you-it's dry, technical stuff and falls more solidly into the enterprise architecture domain than what I usually reference here.


Still, there are a few items of interest to executive-level IT leaders and business readers.


First, there's the concept itself. In one of the few posts I've found on the paper, UK enterprise architect and ebizQ blogger Michael Poulin points out in his summary of the paper:

"... I see this effort as a tremendously important and significant move in the Industry that gives us a hope on the 'end of standard wars and madness' and a chance to communicate about SOA in 'common' language."

How does it do that? Column 2.0 blogger and BPM expert Sandy Kemsley best explained it on her blog last week after attending a presentation at The Open Group Conference in Toronto, Canada:

"They created a continuum of reference architectures, from the most abstract conceptual SOA reference architectures through generic reference architectures to SOA solution architectures. The biggest difference in the standards is that of viewpoint: the standards are written based on what the author organizations are trying to do with them, but contain a lot of common concepts."

Second, starting on page 18, you'll find a definitions lists of SOA core concepts, including a definition of the terms "SOA" and "service." This is followed by similar lists for SOA governance terms. They're not the prettiest definitions, but they do at least offer an agreement on the terms-which, if you've followed SOA's development, you'll know is no small task.


As Dr. Chris Harding of The Open Group says in the press release, it's a starting point, "which we hope and expect will continue."


Hear! Hear!