Sun (JAVA) ponied up some real money this week to join the Object Management Group (OMG)-administered SOA (service oriented architecture) Consortium. Other sponsors include Cisco (CSCO), IBM (IBM), SAP (SAP) and Sparx Systems. I believe BEA (BEAS) was a sponsor when the consortium began in March 2007 but it does not seem to be listed any longer.
Sunâ€™s press release raised two questions in my mind:
The SOA Consortium is the group that said at its founding that it was going to go out of business in 2010 (â€œa closed-end operationâ€ was the term the OMG used). So why did Sun join now?
Who to hell is Sparx Systems and what are they doing in the pool with those sharks?
The SOA Consortium says it is all about â€œRedirecting the industry conversation to business-driven SOA.” I think the SOA Consortiumâ€”perhaps because of IBMâ€™s apparent instigating sponsorshipâ€”is trying to overcome the common technical use of the words â€œservicesâ€ and â€œarchitecture,â€ trying to position SOA as a business strategy as part of an IBM marketing messaging tactic.
The better analogy in my opinion is to compare two eras:
In 1995: client/server was the architecture behind a business process re-engineering (where have you gone, Michael Hammer?) business strategy
In 2010: service oriented architecture is the architecture behind a business process management (BPM) business strategy
BPR was all about using a single large monolithic package such as SAP R/3 in an enterprise. BPM is all about tying together multiple packages within and among enterprises.
As part of its kick off in 2007, the SOA Consortium interviewed CIO and CTO focus groups. I interpreted the consortium’s findings in the BPR vs. BPM context to mean that SOA would cause a fundamental market change for packaged application providers. In the client/server generation, suppliers gave away the platform (e.g., ABAP, PeopleTools) to sell the application modules (R/3, PeopleSoft HR). Users say they expect application developers to do the opposite in the SOA generation: give them the services (SAP ESA) if they acquire the SOA platform (NetWeaver).
Perhaps thatâ€™s why startup ERP SaaS provider Workday acquired the Ireland-based Cape Clear middleware maker this week. (Oh by the way, scratch another independent middleware player off this recent list.)
The answer to why Sun is getting involved with this evolving SOA buzzword game seems to lie in the Sun executive quoted in the press release. It didnâ€™t come out of the Sun front office but from Bill Vass, president and COO of Sun Microsystems Federal. So thereâ€™s probably a tactical U.S. government opportunity somewhere in there with the pony.
As for the second question, according to an excerpt of an IDC report released as a promotional piece by Sparx in May 2007, it is a private 10-year-old Australian software development tool maker that is not even that well known in Australia. Its tools are mostly deployed into midsized development organizations according to the IDC article.
Sparxâ€™s product is based around Model Driven Development and the Unified Modeling Language and is platform agnostic. That is, it works with the Eclipse/Java-oriented guys that Sparx is in the shark tank with at the OMG, as well as with Microsoft (MSFT) Visual Studio and Visio.
Interestingly, I canâ€™t find the term SOA anywhere in the IDC report on Sparx? Go figure.
— Dennis Byron