RealTime IT News

Tools Part of the SOA Challenge

NEW YORK -- Web services are increasingly becoming a key component of service-oriented architectures (SOAs) because of their ability to interoperate with several platforms, said a panel of distributed computing experts. However, there is still some rocky terrain to navigate before anyone will be able to really enjoy full SOA implementation.

"Web services have brought heterogeneity to SOA," said Chris Swann, an end user from Credit Suisse First Bank. "I've not talked to a single banker who uses all Java or all Microsoft."

But officials from vendors like Sonic Software, Metastorm, Computer Associates, Digital Evolution and Tarari, speaking at the Web Services on Wall Street 2005 show here this week, offered a caveat.

While SOAs are gaining momentum from an evolution in Web services standards and adoption, there is an overwhelming lack of software tools to connect rigid legacy applications, which tend to operate in silos.

According to Alistair Farquharson, Digital Evolution CTO, and Graham Legg, Metastorm director of product development, the lack of tools, which could include adapters as part of a toolkit, poses a stumbling block for full-scale SOA implementations. But Hub Vandervoort, vice president of strategic services at Sonic Software, disagreed.

He noted that while it is true there is no out-of-the-box tool to bridge the gap from legacy to SOA, technology has evolved to facilitate migration to the paradigm. Customers are successfully implementing a layer to transition to SOA.

Overall, opinions varied on just how far SOAs have come, but the panelists seemed to agree that financial services and government agencies are the likeliest places SOA implementations will appear.

But many of the panelists also agreed that the metadata stored in registries and repositories are fueling the fire. Metadata will prove invaluable in helping users map out SOAs by interpreting data more intuitively and accurately than traditional data.

Registries are where Web services are often stored, making them integral to the heart of effective SOAs, because they enable business users to call up services all over the world. However, opinions were again mixed as to how effective the most famous registry, UDDI , can be. Several experts over the last few years have openly questioned the value of UDDI.

The experts, who admitted that there is no set answer or approach for a perfect SOA, also said security, interoperability and policies are key obstacles to broader SOA deployment. They said the industry needs clear, functional standards.

Earlier in the day, leaders from OASIS and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) discussed the long, time-consuming road to establishing core Web services standards as foundation for SOAs.

W3C's Steven Ross-Talbot said policy is one of the youngest, yet most troublesome standard nuts to crack, particularly with respect to how it interacts with the discovery and management of Web services.

For practical purposes, Ross-Talbot said SOA adoption rate is highest among retail banking, where changes are not as frequent as in wholesale banking, where financial trades often involve high incidents of change and are time sensitive.