Iona and SOA

Q&A: Thanks to such technologies as its Fuse offering, Iona is making a name for itself in the rapidly expanding market.

The third quarter was a good one for Iona Technologies, a player in the rapidly growing SOA [service-oriented architecture] field. The company saw revenue jump 19 percent over the same period last year, achieved Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Status and rolled out its Fuse open-source offerings. Eric Newcomer, Ionas chief technology officer, sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft to talk about the industry, the company and the future.

Whats with the SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol]-versus-REST [Representational State Transfer] debate? Have we put all that behind us?

I think so. It looks pretty clear that theyre going to coexist, and probably for a long time. I think all but the most fanatical REST-afarians can acknowledge that SOAP and WSDL [Web Services Definition Language] provide a lot of value to a lot of people. Web services gained adoption first, and then we have had a big push for REST, which unfortunately gained the most attention when it was characterized as anti-Web services.

Im convinced the seemingly endless debate derives from the fact that the SOAP and REST folks make fundamentally different assumptions about the world. The REST folks assume that all enterprise computing requirements can be met using HTTP, and they kind of skip over the fact that you have to do a complete redesign and reimplementation to accomplish that. Sure, the big Web sites have done it, but they started with a clean slate.

On the other hand, the Web services people assume that companies want to preserve and extend the designs and implementations they already have. Both are correct and there is no ultimate answer; it always depends on the situation at hand.

Fortunately were now seeing convergence, with vendors starting to implement both. We support REST in the latest version of our products, and I know that IBM and Microsoft are doing the same, probably among a lot of others.

Whyd you guys do a [registry/repository] offering?

It started with a something we were hearing from our customers. They like the distributed approach to SOA infrastructure that we provide, and the lightweight microkernel-based containers, but they kept asking us for better support for configuring, deploying, and managing it. So we built the reg/rep to manage information about the services and their configurations and deployments.

The best thing about it, which gets all the attention, is that you can discover and assemble services, attach policies to them, choose a deployment container, and literally push a button to generate deployable code.

None of the existing reg/rep products on the market did this, so we needed to develop our own.

Whats your view of the state of Web services standards? Are we there yet?

Im not sure were there, but I think were basically done. I think its time to work on other stuff. Last year at this time I wouldnt have said that, and when the Microsoft folks started saying it I admit I wasnt convinced.

But SOAP, WSDL, WS-BPEL, and WS-Security are widely adopted, and I think thats realistically about all were going to get. Some of the other specs have achieved a level of adoption, but most surveys show that the core specs are still the ones most widely adopted and available. We do support several of the others, as do many other vendors, but its not clear at all that all the vendors are going to deliver the same set-except for the core ones.

So I guess Im saying lets move on, a lot has been accomplished with Web services, but I think the industry now needs to tackle the question of how to standardize what the large Web sites are doing around their infrastructures.

Page 2: Iona and SOA