From the Ashes of SOA: Service-Oriented Integration for the Hybrid App World
History is full of instances where a new technology or idea seemingly arrives before its time and has difficulty taking hold because the organizational, cultural or technological foundation simply isn’t there to support it. One such infamous case I keep coming back to is the spectacular rise and gradual fall from grace of SOA. It’s been over five years since Ann Thomas Manes put a nail in its coffin with her provocative (and widely interpreted) SOA obituary. Ann’s point was simple: SOA as “an acronym” got in the way. Too much time was devoted to technology debates (e.g., ‘what’s the best ESB?’ or ‘WS-* vs. REST’), and everyone missed the important issue: architecture and services.
SOA was born out of purposeful intent, to solve a specific problem in a particularly novel way: standards-based and interoperable service-based integration driven by the WS-* standardization efforts. It foreshadowed the fragmentation of the monolithic on-premise software providers and pre-dated the rise of a new cloud-centric world – and it arguably arrived too fast for many organizations to take advantage of it on-premise. The constant churn of WS-* specifications didn’t help the cause either.
Some IT shops got bogged down in religious arguments over WS-* vs. REST while others pushed on, bolting on service interfaces to existing application stacks and protocols and building new service infrastructure as an investment for the future. The result, as we all know, was a lot of hype and dashed expectations for some.
Fast forward five years, and the future foreshadowed by SOA is almost a reality. And while SOA (the acronym) may be dead, the need for a service-oriented architecture is very much alive.
We now live in a hybrid world, populated by cloud, social and on-premise applications, and the move to the cloud for business is a fait accompli — or at the least, inevitable. Cloud initiatives are fueling a new type of service-oriented integration – one where, unlike in the past, the approach is no longer strictly defined by protocols but rather by application services and event-based integration.
In this new world, IT no longer controls the architecture of the apps its business users use (or where they execute), and so consumers and providers – cloud apps, on-premise apps and systems – need to interact in loosely-coupled service-oriented ways. This evolution forces new integration realities that had for many been hidden from sight and kept within the domain of application owners.
Eight or nine years ago, when SOA fever was at its height, everyone was running around trying to transform their internal systems and build new and complex infrastructure to meet an incomplete technological imperative.
Today, the landscape has completely changed. The need for ESBs and tightly coupled integrations that expose the innards of your infrastructure no longer apply. Eventually, as applications move to the Cloud, there will no longer be much infrastructure left to expose. Instead, the integrations are and will increasingly be occurring in the cloud, over an open framework, through high-level service-centric APIs.
At Informatica, we’ve taken the lessons and imperatives of SOA – simplicity, data consistency and accessibility and security – and incorporated it into a platform that makes the promise of service-oriented, hybrid, event-driven integration a reality.
We’ve innovated, and now deliver tooling that both enables technically savvy application owners to implement integrations themselves and IT to assist. And we’ve also made it possible for application owners to consume data and business services and processes in an intuitive user interface that abstracts the underlying details of our hybrid integration platform.
The result is an integration platform that empowers application owners. This is what makes what we’re currently doing at Informatica Cloud so particularly exciting, and potentially disruptive.