RealTime IT News

Vendors Plan SOA 'Maturity' Model

Distributed computing is taking off enough to make vendors create models that help software makers sell the value of service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects for potential business customers.

Next week, a group of software makers, including Sonic Software, AmberPoint, Systinet and BearingPoint, will announce the creation of the SOA Maturity Model white paper.

SOAs are schemas for orchestrating business processes on the Web, often using Web services for communication among applications and reusing assets such as code or services.

While SOAs have been in the public eye for years, there haven't been many publications that help people explain the cost-saving benefits of an SOA to corporations. The Sonic-led paper aims to help architects articulate the cost-benefits of using an SOA to conduct business transactions.

The publication will help corporations assess their organization, staff and project for SOAs, helping them determine the level of investment required to set up a working model, said Jonathan Bachman, senior director of product marketing for Sonic.

"This will help IT managers and decision makers understand the level of benefit they can achieve," Bachman said. "From our experiences, this is how you should approach your investment in SOA, with these expectations for the benefits at each level."

The executive said the paper is different than the SOA self-assessment or readiness tests offered by larger vendors BEA Systems and IBM use in order to entice people to their Web site, or help them decide if they need asynchronous messaging backbones.

Bachman said the companies that created the model complement each other. Sonic makes SOA infrastructure run easier, Amberpoint manages SOAs and Systinet governs them. BearingPoint is a systems integrator that will help implement the SOA.

Analysts expressed differing views on the value of such as model.

"It is a useful bit of work that Sonic and friends have put together," Forrester Research analyst Randy Heffner said. "It has a number of useful illustrations and drill downs on SOA concepts."

But ZapThink analyst Ronald Schmelzer said that while best practices are definitely needed to make SOA work, "all these discreet, separate efforts are confusing end users. I suggest that these folks team up with the OASIS Reference Model and OASIS SOA Blueprints teams to coordinate their efforts and make something happen in a more cohesive way that reduces, not adds, to architect confusion around how to implement SOA best."

The SOA Maturity Model will be the focal point of an upcoming series of management forums to be held throughout the U.S. to help businesses understand and articulate the strategic business benefits of SOA.

Earlier this week, IBM grabbed headlines by unveiling its first ESB, which will compete with Sonic's core ESB product.