Probably the most significant product announcement, however, is IBMs new WebSphere Services Registry and Repository, a system that not only manages the meta data and information around the services that a company builds and deploys—including service end points, service-level quality, and service-level agreements—but it also enables interoperability across multiple registries and repositories.
"The most recent [SOA] holes IBM is filling are with the registry and repository," said Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with IT research firm ZapThink, in Waltham, Mass. "Theyre building out an SOA governance story—not just a product story, but product and services. At the center is the registry. This attacks one of IBMs key strengths—best practices, services and software. There are few vendors that can do this as well."
The key piece of information with IBMs Web services registry and repository is that it will be interoperable with other registries (as they become available). Both SAP and Oracle, the worlds largest and second-largest business applications developers respectively, are in development with their own Web services repositories. Given that the key to Web services is to have other Web services to integrate with, the interoperability among registries—SAP will register its services; Oracle will register its services, and so on throughout the software industry—is critical.
Another key aspect to IBMs SOA approach, particularly when it comes to Web services, is the componentization of its own applications. The idea is that as IBM breaks its applications down into functional parts, those components will be available as reusable services. This work has been ongoing in IBMs Software Group for the past two years, and will help to solidify IBMs story around SOA—particularly given that the chief complaint against IBM has traditionally been that its software is not well-integrated.
"IBM is actually remarkably comprehensive [in its SOA capabilities]," said Bloomberg. "Its really a question as to whether they can get the pieces to work together. This is always the story with IBM—buy a bunch of stuff and bring in consultants to tell you how it all works. But theyve been working really hard on componentizing applications to get all this to work together."
Given the breadth of IBMs offerings, the company has taken a sort of modulated approach to componentization, focusing on key areas like portal capabilities, breaking down functionality that appears in different product families.
The componentization piece will also help IBM build out its own story around software as a service—really the flip side to the same coin thats SOA.
The bottom line for IBM and Mills, however, is really bringing home the companys evolving message around SOA, according to Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz and Associates.
"Theyre really painting a picture of what theyre doing in SOA, and how fundamental it is moving forward," said Hurwitz. "If you look at what IBM is doing with SOA—looking at both people and philosophy as a way to create the reuse of an existing infrastructure and application components—its a way to rethink development."
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