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SOA and the Web of Semantics

Technology winds blow oddly. The technology itself is always moving ahead at one rate and the terms we use to describe technology change at another. Terms can be important step rungs for technology vendor and implementer alike, but the terms are somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes the terms are weblike.

As an example, at Cloud Expo in New York last week we encountered an object-oriented database company and platform as a service provider. Years ago you would have found one at the Object World trade show and the other at LinuxWorld. It seems that there is now room for both under the cloud computing big top.

Next week we are going to the IBM Impact conference, a showcase for BPM and SOA user stories that are presented under the common banner of the Smart Planet, which in turn is something of a general term used to denote the efficient monitoring, analysis and automation of government, health and business practices. Ten years ago IBM was describing something on the order of a Smart Planet but it used terms like autonomic computing and pervasive computing.

SOA is still the working term, but, in fact, the SOA space has been casting about over the last year for new terminology. We’ve seen vendors shifting their semantics to discuss application management where they would once have discussed SOA governance. The term ”middleware” has made a sudden comeback. For some, this shift causes a quandary. Gervas Douglas, who has managed a popular SOA forum for seven years, recently asked his readers if he should change the forum name to “SOA and Cloud Computing.” All this reminds one of that old corny line from back up in the country: “Call me anything but just don’t call me late for dinner.”

P.S.: In unrelated breaking news, noted cosmologist Steven Hawking was quoted this week as saying Aliens exist, that humankind should not try too hard to engage them in communications, and that people here might best to avoid aliens at all costs. Apparently he is concerned that alien visitors who ask earthlings to take them to their leader will be introduced to Apple’s Steve Jobs.

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