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Microservices Expo: Article

The Future of SOA

It’s Light But Not Light Years Away

As consumers we are accustomed to the end-user experience of the Internet. With HTTP and XML, you don't need to have a specific application on your computer to make use of external data - you can just open a browser window and do a search or visit a particular Web site to find the information you need.

But inside an enterprise, sharing data and applications is far more complex. Enterprise SOA vendors have added advanced tools and enabled capabilities that leverage complex specs, making it more difficult for smaller projects to use these features. Although the software may be based on open standards, it often requires a thorough understanding of a range of standards to integrate the data. For example, a department manager who wants access to customer information from another business unit may find that the data is housed in a proprietary middleware bus. In this case, the only way she can access it is by installing the same middleware on her servers, training staff to manage the software, and paying the vendor fees to maintain it.

These kinds of obstacles don't exist on the Internet, where you can go to sites like Google Maps, create a mashup, and send it to your contacts through Facebook. If you want data, you can go directly to the source via open APIs and use it as you see fit. That same capability is needed in the enterprise. For example, Web Services developers must choose between using a RESTful architecture, which has some limitations regarding security, or traditional Web Services (WS) standards, which provide heavy security but are more complex to deploy. And if a developer adds single sign-on functionality to a RESTful interface, the complexity grows.

What we need for the enterprise - and where we believe SOA is heading - is an interface that allows someone to interact directly with data through standard protocols and simple access management instead of through a heavyweight platform, as well as the ability to select the right tool for the job - Web Services where appropriate and a RESTful approach when required.

More Stories By Jerry Waldorf

Jerry Waldorf is the CTO and Chief Architect of Software Infrastructure at Sun Microsystems. He was previously vice president of Engineering at SeeBeyond and has over 15 years of integration experience.

More Stories By Ashesh Badani

Ashesh Badani is the Director for Product Management/Marketing of SOA and Emerging Platforms at Sun Microsystems.

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