I was intrigued to read Anne Thomas Manes SOA obituary. Several people pointed me to it, often with some comment along the lines of “SOA, Schmoa”. Some of you may know of my (in)famous slide by that name that I used at Gartner’s Application Integration and Web Services summit in the fall of 2004. It was often interpreted to mean that I was declaring SOA dead or something like it. Reactions at the time ranged from thanks to astonishment at my blasphemy towards the IT religion (mostly the latter).
What most people never really understood (I probably didn’t explain it well I guess) was that I was claiming that the term SOA was being used and abused by vendors, analysts, press, and IT to justify complex, highfalutin approaches and that it was being used to fill a void left by Web services. At the time, people were coming to grips with WS, and therefore the confusion was starting to wane (this was before WS lost its way and became the complex monster that it is today). I said that SOA was rising to the occasion to become the industry ‘hot air’ balloon, replacing WS.
To this day, the term SOA is used in many ways. Some intentionally, some not. The biggest difference is between those that embrace a purist view (Gartner’s definition, which states that SOA has certain principles, etc. and can include simpler implementations such as WOA/REST), and the majority who view SOA as “enterprise class complex SOA”, used for systematic projects. This was why I kept saying “SOA, Schmoa”, and urging people to talk about what they specifically meant (robustness, reliability, interoperability, openness, etc.)
I can’t claim to know exactly what Anne meant but I believe that if she meant that it is the “boil the ocean” overblown enterprise SOA that is dead, (along with other over-engineered, high end solutions), then I would tend to agree. The impact of the current economic mess is that enterprises are cutting back on investment in large-scale, multi-year complex projects. SOA has been the epitome of such projects.
So, “boil the ocean” projects are dead. But it really has nothing to do with whatever SOA means or not.
SOA Schmoa. True today as well.