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IT Leaders Unite for SOA Standards

IT Leaders Unite for SOA Standards

Software vendors working together on specifications to define a language-neutral programming model for application development in SOA platforms reported on Wednesday that they are making substantial progress.

By Alexandra DeFelice CRM Buyer ECT News Network
07/28/06 5:00 AM PT

A group of leading technology vendors is reporting significant progress in the standardization of service-oriented architecture, or SOA, standards.

The Open Service Oriented Architecture collaboration represents an informal alliance of 17 companies that have worked together to create and agree upon Service Component Architecture (SCA) and Service Data Objects (SDO) specifications to benefit companies that are taking advantage of the emerging architecture.

The group also announced several new partners and launched a vendor-neutral Web site, www.OSOA.org, to serve as an information resource for access to draft specifications and white papers, and to provide a forum for industry input and feedback.

New Partners

"Simplifying the way SOA applications are built and managed is a key focus area for customers, and the technical progress announced today is an important step forward in creating common methodologies and best practices across the industry that customers can leverage," Michael Bechauf, vice president of industry standards at SAP, told CRM Buyer. "It's exciting to see this partnership continue to expand and become a truly collaborative effort across the industry, reflecting the importance of establishing industry standards around SOA."

In November 2005, SAP joined with BEA Systems, IBM, IONA, Oracle, Sybase, Xcalia and Zend, agreeing to work together on new industry specifications to simplify SOA application development. Now, additional partners have joined the alliance, including Cape Clear, Interface21, Primeton Technologies, Progress Software (formerly Sonic Software), Red Hat, Rogue Wave Software, Software AG, Sun Microsystems and Tibco Software.

One of the new partners, Software AG, said it decided to join because many of its customers manage "heterogeneous environments that include multiple application silos," Ivo Totev, vice president of product marketing for Software AG, told CRM Buyer. "The concept of SOA is vitally important to our customers in bridging these silos. But we also feel strongly that the full power of SOA to help enterprises will be released through a platform and language-neutral initiative."

'Significant Force'

Analysts say the alliance is bound to be a significant force in the future of SOA.

"This is the beginning of a new long-term, influential organization," Yefim Natis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, told CRM Buyer. "This is a large group of vendors united behind a new programming model and new standards agreement. This is a very important development."

Together, the companies have achieved what they are calling "considerable technical progress" in developing SCA and SDO technologies, including new and updated draft specifications.

These specifications can greatly reduce complexity associated with developing applications by providing a way to unify services regardless of programming language and deployment platform, according to alliance members. Both are emerging technologies designed to simplify the representation of business logic and business data.

"SCA represents an important area of evolution for SOA and Web services standards," Mark Hapner, SOA strategist and distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems, told CRM Buyer. "SCA can succeed as a standard if it eventually provides tangible simplification for developers, gets moved to participative standards venues like the JCP (Java Community Process) or Oasis, and includes compatibility testing between vendors."

Working Together

Oracle's director of Web services standards, Jeff Mischkinsky, acknowledged that working with competitors in the industry can help enhance his customers' overall SOA experience. Support for key industry standards has helped Oracle deliver its SOA platform with Oracle Fusion Middleware, along with other projects, he said.

At this moment, it appears all the noteworthy vendors are working together well, with the exception of Microsoft -- which has its own Windows Communications Framework (formerly known as "Indigo"), Natis said.

"There's always going to be variation and different extensions of implementations that companies will position as the best, but the vendors understand they benefit from agreeing on the fundamentals," he said.

Additionally, the Web site provides a centralized location to highlight vendor progress and accomplishments in the overall SOA space, which Natis says is prevailing as the priority for enterprise software projects.

"SOA is a very popular and highly advanced technology, but it's not new," Natis said. "It's not an invention that still must prove to be [effective]. It's a crystallization of a best practice that's been utilized for the past 10 years."


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