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Semantics and SOA: Don't Give Up

Although I don't remember when I first heard the term Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), I remember researching Web services around 2000. Back then... the sky seemed the limit... Platform independence, long-running transactions, and asynchronous processes - it would be like world peace. Unfortunately, it hasn't really panned out yet.
Although I don't remember when I first heard the term Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), I remember researching Web services around 2000. Back then, an architecture to handle Web services was unnamed, yet understood - at least to a degree. Now it has a name - SOA.

Back then, it seemed clear to me that Web services could provide more than just a way for Web-based applications to operate. With loosely coupled services communicating via standard protocol, while centralized directories allowed these services to describe their APIs, the sky seemed the limit. Reuse, long-chased but never achieved, seemed almost automatic. Platform independence, long-running transactions, and asynchronous processes - it would be like world peace.Unfortunately, it hasn't really panned out yet. You can't wrap your existing applications (or pieces of them) if you don't know where they are or exactly what they do. Application portfolio management is a sort of oxymoron. Orchestrating these newly independent chunks of functionality is an unsolved problem, not to mention workload management. Instead, vendors have jumped in and created a lot of artificial complexity in Munchausen's-by-Proxy play. As a result, there have been a lot of unmet interoperability promises, expensive failures and only modest successes.

So is it time to give up? Absolutely not.

Last week I attended the Semantic Technology Conference in San Jose. After years of searching, I finally saw some ready-for-prime-time solutions. I'm beginning to feel that semantic technology is ready to step up and solve some of these problems. Here is why I'm feeling optimistic: