Where Have All the SOA Standards Gone?
They've become a lonely lot
By: David Linthicum
Oct. 1, 2007 08:15 AM
To mark a new standard in the SOA space, I create a Google Alert and sift through the pile of links returned to get the scope of its maturation. I'm currently tracking over 60 standards, starting with SOAP and XML (XML happened way before Google was cool).
Lately I've noticed a drop in the number of blogs, links, and articles talking about particular SOA standards. Where I once got dozens of links a week on some standards, I now get only one or two or none. So, I'm thinking that standards, although around, aren't as cool as they once were, and maybe people are a bit confused by the alphabet soup out there.
Sure. However, the number of WS-* standards out there today are downright scary. People who are just figuring out what the heck SOA is don't want to walk through a maze of standards. Moreover, vendors have done a less than stellar job of promoting standards. They typically do more of a sell job than an education job...there's a difference.
Even at the seven SOA and enterprise architecture conferences I spoke at earlier this year, it was clear that interest in standards isn't driving SOA. Instead, the notions of architecture modernization and agility are really in the forefront these days. While I don't think anyone doesn't consider standards when implementing a SOA, the notion of standards doesn't seem to be driving the decisions as it once did.
To my point above, I think this is silent pushback from the years when the creation of SOA standards was more about marketing than coming together on the implementation of technology. I think users have figured that out. Considering the sheer number of standards out there that the vendors are asking you to follow and support, many find it far too self-serving and confusing. And I'm not sure I can blame them.
Don't get me wrong. Doing things in a standard way, using standards, is very important. Investment in standards could indeed lower some risks in the implementation and the maturation of an SOA. However, while rallying around a few key standards is certainly important, you simply can't figure out how 60 or more, some of them competing, will fit in your SOA. Too much, too early, too confusing.
It's time to normalize the number of standards out there. Remove the redundant standards, and remove the ones that aren't likely to have value anytime soon. They can be reintroduced later, as the need arises. Those who create standards need to be very clear about how they fit into SOA problem domains, and get out of the "We do it all" mentality. Each technology and standard is a part of a SOA, and fitting things together is the job of the architect.
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