Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let the Journey Begin

The "Journey" I'm referring to is a path to a better understanding of SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) and the tools that enable an organization to achieve it. My name is Rod Biresch and I'm part of a team of Enterprise Architects that include Steve Smith and Tom Purcell at Chariot Solutions who are taking a real world "hands on" practical approach to SOA. So why are we doing this? The answer is pretty simple, we are not satisfied with just stepping through scripted tutorials of basic examples that the SOA product vendors offer. Moreover, these tutorials just happen to work very nicely on a single machine in the same product suite. We've took it upon ourselves to find out what these tools can do in "real world" situations with various applications on disparate platforms. Ok, hopefully I have your interest by now. As much as I'd like to jump right in and explain what we're doing I have to take a step back.

So lets start at the beginning, what is SOA? Today, it has so many meanings and formal definitions that seems to vary depending on which expert you talk to. As my colleague Steve Smith blogged in The Beginning, there seems to be no single or "correct" definition to SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). As for opinions, there are plenty...some people coin it as "marketecture" an others don't see the big deal..."we've been integrating systems and service-enabling applications for long time now!?" Quite frankly, I believe there's truth in both of these. But anyway, I like to think of SOA in business terms as a goal rather than a framework or architectural component. Those pieces are "enablers" of an SOA. Now I'm not going explain why businesses are considering SOA or attempt to formalize it, that's not the point of this blog. Besides, we have plenty of qualified experts out there, not to mention, resources on the web for that, e.g. Wikipedia on "SOA". The fact is that SOA has a lot of momentum in the market and product vendors like IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, BEA, etc. have made huge investments in SOA. Corporations are taking a closer look at SOA and trying to figure out what it means to their business. So practically speaking, SOA is here today and indications are that it continues to quickly gain momentum. However, this fast growth brings plenty of confusion and a need for knowledge, as we found out.

The work we are doing in our lab is very exciting. The knowledge and experience our team has gained through the lab is invaluable and I plan on sharing my findings on this blog. In subsequent posts I'll be discussing my experience with a commercial SOA product (Sun Java CAPS) and an open source ESB (Open ESB on GlassFish). My goal with this blog is to pass along information from a non-biased view on implementing a real world business scenarios with these tools.

Rod Biresch
Enterprise Architect
Chariot Solutions