Part one of our look at emerging SOA standards for 2007 covers the current status of Service Component Architecture (SCA) and Service Data Objects (SDO) as the specifications move toward maturity and inclusion in a standards process in the coming year.
SCA and SDO, emerging standards designed to provide programming models developers could use in creating Web services, have yet to fully mature and reach a standards body, but 2007 appears to be the year they will.
Hopes were raised this past July that SCA/SDO would find a standards home for Christmas. Open SOA (OSOA), the vendor group, including IBM, BEA Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp., which is currently working on the standards, indicated last summer that they would make a decision on a standards body by the end of 2006. Now, it appears it will be sometime in 2007.
In response to an e-mail request for an update on the status of SCA/SDO, Graham J Barber, program director, SOA partnerships at IBM and an editor working on the specifications, wrote: "We intend to take the main SCA specifications to a 'Version One' level around the end of the first quarter of 2007. It's our expectation then that these specs, together with the published V2.1 SDO specifications will be handed to a standards body for future stewardship."
Whether or not it is fully mature or blessed by a standards body, SCA is already being incorporated into vendor products, and Ted Farrell, chief architect and vice president of tools and middleware at Oracle, says it's usable now. SCA is already included in Oracle WebCenter Suite, designed for developers working on SOA and Web 2.0 projects, he said.
Rogue Wave Software, a division of Quovadx, Inc. announced earlier this month that is had incorporated SDO, including adding it to the product name, in its SOA tool suite, HydraSDO.
Oracle's Farrell argues that while a standards body seal of approval would be a good thing, and he expects it to happen soon, what really matters is the practical use of SCA/SDO in tools and application development.
"We are interested in SCA becoming a standard and I would call SCA a pseudo standard," he said. "We don't want to do the proprietary thing. There are a lot of advantages to having an open architecture."
But Farrell said the most important thing is that the standard needs to work in practical applications and have wide-ranging industry support.
"SCA really came about as more ad hoc," he said. "IBM and BEA were frustrated with some of the standards processes, so they started OSOA. Oracle jumped in and other vendors jump in. And while it's not in a traditional standards body, it's very much growing and evolving, but, at the end of the day, we as enterprise software vendors really just want to get these specs into the software and do the right thing."
Farrell said SCA/SDO are following a similar path to Business Process Execution Langauge (BPEL). It was a combined effort of IBM and Microsoft, then joined by BEA, SAP AG and Siebel Systems, which is now part of Oracle. In 2003, those vendors then submitted BPEL for Web services (BPEL4WS) 1.1 to the OASIS open standards organization, which has advanced the renamed standard to its current form as WS-BPEL 2.0.
Developers and architects working on SOA projects need to work with standards as they are today and should not wait for all of them to mature and become official, argues Peter S. Kastner, vice president enterprise integration for the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company. He believes those working on SOA projects will have to evolve with the standards.
"The reality is that SOA related standards will evolve rapidly over the next several years, so it behooves users to abstract the use of those standards to the extent that that's possible," he said. "Basically, change is inevitable, so deal with it. You got to be crazy to wait for all of this to become truly mature because that won't be for 10 years."
Part two, will focus on the progress being made by WS-Policy, which has been in the W3C process since April.