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IBM Impact 2012: Is this the age of SOA 3.0?

SOA has been used for application transformation for several years – now SOA itself is undergoing a transformation. At IBM Impact 2012, IBM Application and Integration Middleware General Manager Marie Wieck went so far as to dub the transformation “SOA 3.0.” She was not alone among IBM leaders showing support for SOA services – old and new.

A number of elements of Web 2.0 – cloud services, open APIs and mobile apps – are becoming the means to drive a new form of SOA. This SOA is much more likely to use REST than SOAP. Services continue to underlie new IBM integration offerings. At Impact 2012, IBM rolled together some mobile services development tools, with its newly acquired Worklight mobile middleware platform forming something of a centerpiece. IBM also promoted the newly forming ecosystems of open APIs, announcing IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live Web API services.

“Today SOA is about linking systems of record together. SOA is the core. It simply is just good design. Design principles like SOA are fundamental in allowing you to bring isolated silos together,” said IBM’s Wieck, discussing traditional SOA.  But Wieck is also watching new forms of SOA – ones that reach out to Web users and reach back to enterprise assets.

“New API services unleash your business to new users,” Wieck said.

Wieck’s boss, IBM Software Group leader Steve Mills, echoed her comments. He reminded, as he sometimes does, that core SOA concepts are not really new. “It’s good fundamental design,” he said. “Winding everything up into a big ball of twine is not a good idea. [But] modularity  … is an idea that has been with us for a very long time.”

Is the onslaught of RESTful APIs showing SOA the door? “What we are seeing today in a many ways is the logical extension of SOA – not something new and different from SOA,” responds Mills.

A financial industry technology leader on hand at Impact concurred that services-style thinking is a key to development today. “We have to get to this world where we are focused more on services rather than applications,” said Steve George, CIO, Huntington Bank. “Flexible SOA accelerates solution delivery.”

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