Service-oriented architecture's been great on theory to date, but many potential adopters have voiced concerns that it lacks the necessary concrete to convince them to build their IT organizations around it.
To convince the skeptics and calm the skittish, OASIS has formed the SOA Adoption Blueprints Technical Committee to focus on real-world, vendor-neutral SOA deployments. The international standards consortium hopes that it can provide reliable maps to the new breed architecture for users lost in a sea of emerging Web services standards and trumped-up vendor offerings.
"The typical response users looking to build a service-oriented architecture have gotten is proper implementation of SOA means, 'Buy my product,'" said Miko Matsumura, vice president of marketing for Infravio Inc., who will head the committee and who submitted the basic, "Generico," blueprint to OASIS. "The idea is that a user can turn to a vendor and say, 'You need to implement this blueprint in order to demonstrate your capabilities.'"
Matsumura was quick to draw a thick line between the blueprints committee and the standards work.
"It's a working thing as opposed to being an abstraction," he said. "We do not want any more WS-anythings."
OASIS director of standards development James Bryce Clark agreed that some practicality is needed.
"Users often cannot envision how the technologies can combine to solve their problems," he said. "We want to show how a particular business problem can be solved completely using open standards, and not just OASIS standards."
Matsumura hopes to have the Generico blueprint fully fleshed out within four months and then move onto more specialized cases, either targeting a horizontal slice of SOA technology or a vertical industry market, and all based on actual user problems. Each new blueprint, ideally, will inject confidence into the SOA universe.
"We're using the principle of safety in numbers," Matsumura said. "Nobody wants to try the new thing because you could get hurt. This shows them how to do it without the pain."
In addition to Infravio, big five consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton and XML networking vendor DataPower Technologies Inc. will be among those with seats on the committee. Yet Clark said the blueprints committee has caught on with a more important, if unidentified, community.
"We're hearing tremendous end user interest in this project and this may be an indication of a sea change in the process with the business problem owners taking over the agenda in SOA," he said. "It has to happen at some point. Every successful technology at some point changes from push to pull."
Matsumura originally formed the SOA blueprints concept while at The Middleware Co. and had been looking for a few years to bring the initiative out to a wide audience in need of practical guidance. He said he believes OASIS will make a good home for the project because it archives all committee activities for public view, exposing any vendor-specific agendas so they can be weeded out of the process.
"This has to be neutral or it won't succeed," he said.
The Web site for the committee can be found at http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/soa-blueprints.