Developers Demand Disciplined Diversity

Opinion: SOA Software's acquisition of Blue Titan and Motorola's new developer portal both offer help with heterogeneity.

The proverbial "Zero-One-Infinity Rule," one of the tenets of hacker lore, says that any element of an IT architecture should "Allow none of foo, one of foo, or any number of foo."

Any other restriction or limitation smacks of favoring the convenience of an implementer over the needs or expectations of the user.

This rule came to mind as I looked at two announcements, both made public May 8, that I had a chance to discuss in advance last week with representatives of SOA Software and Motorola.

SOA Software announced May 8 its acquisition of Blue Titan, a network technology company whose founder and CEO Frank Martinez has spoken with eWEEK on prior occasions about the need for service-oriented architectures to foster continued flexibility, rather than being just another way to build a system that locks itself into its initial definition.

Martinez continues with the merged companies as executive VP with a focus on product strategy.

"This is our fourth acquisition in 18 months," said SOA Software Executive VP Roberto Medrano when we spoke last week, "and our most strategic: we get the mediation side from Blue Titan, and we believe were becoming the largest independent non-mega-vendor platform for SOA infrastructure."

That independence, it seems to me, is significant because of the key distinction between the concept and the reality of an enterprise service bus.

Often discussed as the abstract backbone of a service-oriented architecture, any real service bus becomes at some point a specific vendors product—and Martinez observed that real implementations of ESB are just as hard to decompose, and to mix and match in multivendor constellations, as are other application confederations such as office suites.

"If you start to decompose the capabilities of an ESB, there are capability dependencies. Its hard to leverage the messaging capabilities of the ESB independently of the mediation capabilities; it requires some form of service container, which today is built primarily on top of the application container," Martinez said.

Thats why I see value in the SOA Software proposition of SOA infrastructure management with no ax to grind, no agenda for .Net or Java or for any particular database or other application suite.

As I mentioned above, I also got an early preview last week of Motorolas planned launch May 8 of MotoDev, a consolidation and expansion of the companys online presence and support for third-party application developers targeting Motorolas platforms.

I spoke with Christy Wyatt, vice president for Ecosystem and Market Development at Motorola Mobile Devices, who emphasized that "wickedly compelling user experiences dont just come from edgy hardware design, and other things that we like to do, but also from outside Motorola. Third-party developers are critical to making things happen."

For those developers, she said, "the problem is navigating a technology portfolio with the breadth and depth of Motorolas: Its a challenge for developers to see where things are going and to place their bets.

"Theyre weighing where theyll make their investments in targeting mobile devices and the connected home."

I know that my own priorities for next-generation information require developer expertise and creativity that spans multiple classes of device, with systems that follow me and are aware of what Im doing—so that the services cloud can offer me what Im likely to want in a form thats convenient for me to use.

A lot of what that sentence implies is likely to shape the agenda at the JavaOne conference, and I expect to have much to share with you next week in anticipation and in the aftermath of that event.

Tell me what bets youre placing at


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