05:54 PM

Vendors Ramp SOA Standards Efforts

An alliance including BEA Systems, IBM, Oracle, and SAP this week gave a progress report about its goals. The group aims to develop a common programming model geared toward SOA, a method to create and manage IT systems through reusable software code, and business processes for companies looking to deploy Web services.

An alliance of software vendors on Wednesday presented a progress report on specifications that define a language-neutral programming model for application development in service-oriented architecture (SOA) platforms.

Open Service Oriented Architecture, or OSOA, comprises experts from rivals BEA Systems, IBM, Oracle, SAP and others. Initially formed in November, the group aims to develop a common programming model geared toward SOA, a method to create and manage IT systems through reusable software code and business processes for companies looking to deploy Web Services.

Member companies pulled resources to work on two projects: service component architecture (SCA) and service data objects (SDO).

SCA focuses on defining models for creating and assembling service components for building SOAs, while SDO provides a consistent method for data handling within SOA applications.

"The SCA and SDO specifications were announced a while ago, but are progressing," said Dennis Gaughan, research director at AMR Research Inc. "It's an impressive roster of companies in the group that has grown to 17, and their intent is good. They are hoping to have final specifications by the end of the year. So it will be a while before it will make a difference for the customers who are doing SOA today."

SAP AG vice president of industry standards Michael Bechauf confirmed the companies hope to submit specification on both concepts to a standards body, yet undetermined, this year.

Since November, about eight groups have been formed to focus on adding support for more technologies to make SOA easier for developers to use, according to Jeff Mischkinsky, director of Web services standards at Oracle Corp.

The SCA specifications now include support for business process execution language (BPEL) and PHP hypertext preprocessor (PHP) Web-scripting language to expand the range of technologies supported.

Mischkinsky said "you're now able to manage polices of service at the enterprise level, not just at the individual composite level."

The group also has setup what they call a "vendor-neutral Web site, designed as a wiki" they will use to collaborate, communicate and gain feedback from developers. There's a place for news, white papers, public specifications and access to information on early deployments.

Forrester Research Inc. senior analyst Peter Kim wasn't surprised to hear the site was designed as a wiki once he heard IBM's involvement. "When IBM was thinking about launching internal blogs, they posted their internal blogging policy to a wiki so employees could comment," he said. "It went through a review process where more than 100 people commented, and I believe the policy was adopted with out a change."

AMR Research Inc. research director Jim Murphy agreed a wiki seems like a good way to organize this type of platform, as more IT organizations use wikis to manage and collaborate on changes in documents.

"The problem is wikis are so dynamic that it's difficult to figure out when you're done, so a standards effort can become an eternal work in progress" unless at some point it's set in stone, Murphy said.

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