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IBM Devises SOA Programming Model
By Clint Boulton

November 30, 2005

UPDATED: The software landscape is filled with standards for Web services, but few exist for the more broad distributed computing models such as service-oriented architectures (SOA).

That changed today as IBM, BEA Systems, Oracle, SAP AG and others vowed to create the SOA Programming Model, which includes specifications and open technologies to make it easier for companies to create applications in an SOA .

SOAs, which often use Web services as the method for exchanging applications, are all the rage because they allow software to communicate regardless of its different code bases. If done correctly, SOAs allow developers to reuse assets, such as code or services, to cut down on manual coding labor.

For example, a Java-based smartphone might be used to tap into information from a consumer’s or employees Windows-based PC, providing the necessary interoperability and security clearance.

For consumers, Web services and SOAs might enable something as simple as ordering merchandise through their televisions. But corporate employees should be able to leverage SOAs to exchange information across disparate computing gear.

No wonder then that leading enterprise infrastructure software makers such as IBM, BEA and Oracle want to open up the SOA pipeline. To this point, the companies have created their own proprietary strategies to work with their own products.

The SOA Programming Model is a break from this closed approach.

Its specifications include the Service Component Architecture (SCA), an open approach to simplifying the creation and use of business services by making middleware functions more accessible to the application developer.

Service Data Objects (SDO) complement SCA. They provide a common way to help users tap into data residing in multiple locations and formats, making it easier for developers to use application programming interfaces (API) without having to code to them.

SCA and SDO include: a Service Component Architecture for business services; a Java spec for implementing SCA services; a C++ specification for implementing SCA services; a Java Service Data Objects spec; and a C++ Language Service Data Objects spec.

SCA and SDO will be available royalty free, and the authors are soliciting industry feedback. Iona, Siebel Systems, Sybase and Xcalia are also founding members of the SOA Programming Model.

ZapThink analyst Ronald Schmelzer, whose firm analyzes SOAs and Web services, said the fact that industry giants are throwing their weight behind SOAs in such a determined fashion means that companies planning to use enterprise applications will have to consider SOAs for their enterprises or risk being left behind with unsupported products.

“The day of monolithic enterprise apps that aren’t service-oriented is now over — this effort puts the final nail in that coffin,” Schmelzer said.

In related software standard news, OASIS ratified XML Catalogs version 1.1 and Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) version 1.1 as standards.

XML Catalogs version 1.1 defines mechanisms to facilitate processing of XML data on computers while allowing references to files, photos and graphics and style sheets. CAP version 1.1 provides an open format for exchanging hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over any network.

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