Thursday, December 08, 2005

It's not just an abstraction layer!

James Governor writes about the Service Component Architecture here. He also linked to Neil Ward-Dutton's take.

He is, of course, right to be sceptical... a major announcement like this should be critically assessed and the the technology evaluated on how well it solves real problems... It's our job to both argue for its merits and, more importantly, demonstrate that our clients are achieving real value from using it. As an IBM Software Services consultant, my job falls primarily into the second bucket. I wish I could blog about some of the exciting projects I'm seeing right now.

From reading the press coverage, however, I see two misconceptions appear again and again.

Misconception 1) "It's just a spec". Not quite... WebSphere Process Server is built on SCA and is shipping today.

Misconception 2) "It's a new abstraction layer". Not quite... it is more than that. I tried to articulate what I mean here but I'm not convinced I've done a good job. This point is very important so I'll try again soon.


Neil Ward-Dutton said...

Absolutely Richard, SCA and SDO aren't just specs. And Integration Developer is a lovely product...;-)

It's good for standards to be driven by market experience than the other way around - but I think the "big story" isn't about products, it's absolutely about the potential new standard and its relationship to Java/J2EE - and what that means for companies like IBM which have spent an awful lot of money convincing people that Java/J2EE is the only game in town...

SCA's real value isn't just about developer productivity (if it was then I'd suggest IBM should have focused on something like Uniface for service-based development ;-). I think that the real value of having a model which explicitly calls out both ends of the connections between services, is more about the ability of the service-oriented model to better capture the semantics of business processing - and to better support the service lifecycle all the way from analysis to operation. So what I want to see is you guys + the other 800lb gorillas shaping the spec, being joined by Amberpoint, Actional, Systinet, Infravio, etc etc - and some enterprise users. Then I'll be happy! ;-)

Richard Brown said...

Thanks for the comments, Neil.

I have mixed opinions on the wisdom of formalising a standard before developing an implementation so it was heartening to see your comment about "shaping the spec". That's spot on: this specification isn't set in stone.

I have no visibility into how the work of SAP and Oracle, etc., will progress. But I do hope that we go through some iterative process and come up with a version (and multiple competing implementations) that is truly valuable.

As for the other players in this space... I have to say that I don't come across them all that often on my engagements so don't personally know much about them. I hope they get involved (and that we don't make it too difficult for them!)