REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft kicked off its 2009 SOA and Business Process Conference here by attempting to debunk some of the myths related to service-oriented architecture.
Steven Martin, senior director of product management in Microsoft’s Developer Division, started out by addressing the issue of SOA’s relevance, as the discussion in the industry over the last few weeks, spurred by Burton Group analyst Anne Thomas Manes, delved into whether SOA is dead.
“There has been a lot of hype around the creation of SOA and hype around the death of it…,” Martin said, noting that SOA is in fact not dead. Yet, “the more things change, the more things stay the same,” he added, noting that several myths about SOA remain.
The first myth Martin set out to debunk is that “SOA stops at the firewall.” Martin said this one tends to look at SOA as a way to deliver EAI (enterprise application integration) based functionality. However, “if we think of it [SOA] this way we’re missing a good chunk of functionality,” Martin said.
The truth is that SOA does not stop at the firewall, he added. But “the most important person in the IT organization today is the guy who runs the firewall,” he said.
The second myth Martin addressed is that “SOA aligns business with IT.” For his part, Martin said, “SOA is a ‘how,’ not a ‘what.’ What aligns business and IT? People. SOA is more of a conversation around methodology.
The next SOA myth Martin took on is that “SOA governance fixes everything.” Martin said that despite Microsoft’s good relationships with SOA governance solution vendors such as AmberPoint and SOA Software, the company does not look at SOA governance as a panacea. “We think it’s a beginning of a conversation, not an end. Governance needs to span all of IT, not just SOA.”
Meanwhile, Martin gave a bit of the history of SOA, mentioning that SOA emerged from Web services, which is something IBM and Microsoft together pioneered. However, “IBM pulled of some marketing genius and defined SOA around what they had to offer,” Martin said. Yet, “Microsoft is bringing SOA to the masses,” he said. Still, “we’ve just scratched the surface. We’re taking SOA beyond the firewall, and coupling it with modeling will change everything,” he added.
Then Martin spoke about industry events relating to SOA starting from the last 10 years, to the last 10 months, to the last 10 weeks. Over the last 10 years several trends have occurred that led the way for SOA, such as the Web services explosion, the world became more federated, going beyond the firewall matters, and “core versus commodity becomes top of mind,” Martin said.
And over the last 10 months more trends occurred such as the re-emergence of virtualization. Virtualization is now available to the masses. Another trend that got bigger over the last 10 months is that the cloud and modeling have surfaced to extend the value of SOA, Martin said.
Meanwhile, as recent as the last 10 weeks, the major trend is that the cloud is coming, he said. So focusing business logic abstraction is back at the top of the to-do list. Other key trends or issues from the last 10 weeks include that “absorption of IT assets will be less painful, modeling is your friend and the first ‘S’ in ‘Software plus Services’ or S+S matters,” Martin said.
“SOA for us is not an elitist pursuit,” Martin said. He instructed attendees that are looking to implement SOA to “start small, find success and grow. Reuse will continue to be of particular value,” he added.
Modeling for the Masses
Regarding modeling and what Microsoft is doing to bring that capability to the masses, Martin said, “We’re making this big bet on ‘Oslo’ and we think it is going to be a transformational piece of technology.” Oslo is the code-name for Microsoft’s overall software modeling strategy, which consists of a new language known as “M” for building models; a new visual tool named Quadrant for interacting with models; and a repository for storing and sharing models.
The big bets Microsoft has made to help deliver its SOA message include Windows Workflow Foundation; BizTalk Server; Windows Communication Foundation (WCF); Oslo, Internet Information Services (IIS) and ‘Dublin,’ which is the code-name for a new set of technologies that adds to Microsoft’s application server capabilities; and the Windows Azure Services Platform, Martin said.
“So we see game-changing technologies for SOA and composite applications,” Martin said. Two of which are “Software plus services through cloud computing, and modeling with new tools for the model-driven platform.”
Moreover, Martin said that “Microsoft has invested very, very deeply in cloud technology. We’re building data centers all over. We’re transforming the conversation from on-premise computing exclusively to the cloud.” Yet, Martin also reminded users that “The first ‘S’ still matters,” with that ‘S’ being software.
Meanwhile, Mark Davis, SOA Practice Manager at Hewlett-Packard, followed Martin and spoke on HP’s alliance with both Microsoft and EDS to deliver SOA functionality to clients. Davis discussed a project he called AirSOA, which is an outsourcing effort by HP and EDS using Microsoft technology to deliver SOA to airline customers.
“This is something we’ve done for a number of airlines around the world,” Davis said. The goal is to upgrade their online reservations and other systems with SOA and services. “We’re automating all these processes with a services dimension and we’re trying to achieve reusable components,” he said. And it appears to be working. “We’re getting 57 percent reuse rates on services,” Davis said. He also noted that AirSOA has saved 10,000 hours from one project effort and that the services can be used by other systems.
For his part, Eddie Amos, general manager of developer platforms and tools, who opened the conference, said despite the recession, conference attendance exceeded expectations, attracting folks from 25 countries around the world and highlighting the interest in SOA in general and in Microsoft’s brand of SOA in particular.