SANTA CLARA, Calif.— Adoption of SOA is still in the very early stages, but the introduction of new development tools from BEA Systems, combined with open-source components, will help the process along.
This is the view of some of the developers and system architects who attended the BEAWorld customer conference here this week to compare notes and to hear the news about the latest SOA (service-oriented architecture) technologies coming on the market.
The software industry still has a lot of work to do to convince companies to adopt SOA technology, said Craig Courtney, an enterprise architect with Cardinal Health Inc. in Dublin, Ohio.
The key sign that SOA is immature is that both technology vendors and enterprises have a lot of different definitions of what it is, Courtney said, and “All the vendors are trying to figure out what it means to them.”
Courtney presented a case study about how Cardinal Health developed a road map for implementing SOA.
“But there is very little of what it means to the enterprises that are implementing it. So it is very difficult to take it to heart and actually implement it inside of an actual company,” he said. “The vendors are all coming in and asking how do I sell it, not necessarily how does it benefit big business.”
However, he said BEA Systems Inc. seems to have some good plans for its AquaLogic product line, which the company announced in June. AquaLogic is a platform for designing and building SOA systems.
BEA is just starting to deliver the first components of the AquaLogic product, Courtney said, and it remains to be seen how well it will work in terms of implementing real-world Web services.
BEAs acquisition of Eclipse tools developer M7 Corp. is also a positive development for developers who are interested in building SOA systems, he said.
“Any tools that can help us get more productive in actually building the applications [are] always going to be a good thing,” Courtney said, adding that “there is really a dearth of tools” that help developers produce good visual interface designs.
BEA is making a wise move to support a blended development environment that supports open-source and commercial development tools, said Colin Sampaleanu, a system architect with Interface21, a private company that provides consulting, training and support for the Spring Framework.
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Sampaleanu was one of two Interface21 architects who gave a talk at BEAWorld on using Spring JavaBeans in WebLogic Server 9.0.
He noted that BEA and Interface21 are collaborating to support Spring in the WebLogic server environment.
“The collaboration basically consists of BEA endorsing the use of Spring Framework on [WebLogic Server], BEA offering 24×7 support for Spring in that environment, and also additional code by both of us to ensure that Spring can take advantage of all the advanced functionality in a WebLogic environment,” Sampaleanu said.
BEA Monday announced that its WebLogic server platform will support Spring, along with other open-source frameworks and application servers such as Apache Beehive, Apache XMLBeans, Tomcat and the Eclipse Web Tools Platform.
“BEA is trying to be a valuable player on top of open source,” which will benefit BEA as well as the open-source community, Sampaleanu said.
“The integration of Spring Framework with WebLogic will allow us to get into some environments that would not otherwise consider us,” he said.
The Spring connection will allow also BEA to gain some additional customers and retain others who want to work with Spring, he said. Some companies wouldnt commit to working with open source unless it were endorsed in some definite way by a major technology company like BEA Systems, he said.
The Service Bus component of the BEA AquaLogic platform “should be a very attractive offering” because it will provide a good technology foundation for SOA components and applications, said Gang Tong, a Web application architect with Avaya Inc. in Basking Ridge, N.J.
The AquaLogic Service Bus is BEA implementation of Enterprise Service Bus that enables applications to access data from multiple databases and lets developers build links between multiple disparate applications.
Tong said he believes the Service Bus would be an effective way to build point-to-point connections between applications in SOA.
“With the service bus as an intermediator” it will make the connections between application components and data sources more transparent and easier to program, he said. And, he added, if it works as promised, it could help speed up the adoption of SOA in the marketplace.