The main reason for the name change is that we feel we can make SOA Pipeline encompass a much broader strategic focus. Service-oriented architectures are where most enterprises are heading right now; Web services provide a way to get there (but not the only way). We feel that the pipeline would be able to focus on the overall strategic roadmap to an SOA, which can include a number of different types of technologies, including enterprise application integration, business process management, and other technologies that currently don't fit neatly into the jurisdiction of Web services.Most people talk about SOA and Web Services interchangeably. While in many cases this works fine, it is important to understand that they are not the same. SOA is an architecture concept whereas Web Services is an implementation concept. In other words, all Web service implementations can be classified as SOA, but not all SOA implementations are Web services. A Web service is a specific implementation of the concepts espoused by SOA that leverages various standards such as XML, SOAP, WSDL, HTTP, etc. But SOAs can also be built using other technologies such as CORBA, J2EE, and Microsoft COM+ (or .NET) without using any Web services. The net take away is that an architecture does not have to use Web services to be classified as an SOA. In other words, whether or not you use Web Services is a secondary decision made after you decide to use SOA, SOA is not a new concept. The first service-oriented architecture for many people in the past was with the use DCOM or Object Request Brokers (ORBs) based on the CORBA specification. The notion of creating reusable services that can be consumed independently of specific enterprise applications has long been the holy grail of the enterprise IT world; XML Web services are what (supposedly) will make this finally possible.
Businesses are currently in a state of evolution with regard to Web services and SOAs. Back in 2003, companies were mostly tinkering with Web services to solve targeted integration issues within departments. In 2004, these graduated to attempts to take these Web services-based initiatives and "grow them" into SOA implementations, usually in departmental pilot projects. In 2005, we're going to start seeing companies looking to spread their SOA initiatives through more cross-departmental service usage as well as some of the first truly enterprise-wide shared services. Most of those implementations will use Web servicesâ€"but not all of them.
As a measure of just how important an emerging field this is, IBM recently launched an SOA consulting practice, as did BEA. IBM is predicting revenues in excess of $100 million in 2005 for SOA consulting and services fees alone (i.e, not counting product revenues). Digital Evolution, one of the leadings companies in the Web services products space, recently changed its name to SOA Software. Most vendors that previously billed themselves as Web services firms are now harking their wares under the SOA term.
As always, let us know what you think about this change, or anything else you see on the Pipeline. We always welcome reader input. And have a great week.