Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Reference Model for SOA out for review

After an exhausting year, the OASIS SOA RM Technical Committee has finally turned out a stable draft defining a reference model for service oriented architecture. The specification is now out for public review and available from the TC's main web pages at:


The 200+ people who worked on this deserve a lot of credit for arguably creating a work which should withstand the current SOA hype. Consensus was difficult but we got there. The team is great.

The Reference Model is abstract in nature. If you read it and expect to see things like a "Service Consumer" and "Service Provider" you will be sadly disappointed. Those are concrete things and belong in architecture, not an abstract model. Those of you with architectural backgrounds will probably find this very useful however and understand the value.

I would assert that the model itself is probably what the W3C Web Services Architecture Group should have delivered rather than attempting to define a grandiose architecture for web services. The one size fits all attitude WRT SOA simply does not scale to all, given the vast variations in requirements.

So what good is this reference model? Simply - it is a stick in the mud (perhaps FUD). If you agree with it, you can state "when I say SOA, I mean SOA as spelled out by the OASIS RM for SOA". If you disagree with it, you can say "when I say SOA, I mean SOA spelled out by the OASIS RM for SOA, with the following exceptions....[place_your_objections_here]". Not that definitions of SOA are rare (in fact there are probably about 6.5 billion on the planet), but honestly, the entire industry benefits from a standard definition that no one group owns.

It also is a guide to be used by architects who are embarking on SOA projects. If everyone in the industry was also to have a common understanding of SOA, it would probably make all our jobs a lot easier.

I heard a really funny statement from an analyst the other day too. They stated quite emphatically that "65% of companies are not doing SOA now, but expect to be by 2007". WTF??? IMHO - if you are reading this blog entry now, you have used the patterns of SOA as defined by the RM. If you send email you are too. I guess "Doing SOA" sounds more risque.