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Digital technology is changing the way people live and conduct business. The Open Group is devising IT standards to make it easier for organizations to benefit from all that mobile, social, cloud and big data technologies have to offer.
In this Q&A, Chris Harding, The Open Group's director for interoperability, discusses the future of disruptive technologies, SOA and IT standards.
Editor's note: Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Where do you see SOA and middleware headed in the next few years?
Chris Harding: SOA has been established for a long time. It was declared dead at one point. In fact, the person who made that statement eventually had to recant and admit that it was not dead. From an Open Group perspective, we don't normally think that something that comes up with a bang like SOA may still be around 10 years later, but that seems to be the case.
I think SOA has been something that has been hard for enterprises to implement and some of them have had more success than others, but it is still growing. I expect bigger growth in that for computing between enterprises and accessing information from outside the enterprise. I think there is still a trend for the traditional enterprise SOA. I think it is solid, but we are seeing perhaps the growth of micro services in addition to that and it will need to be integrated.
Some say the term 'SOA' has gone out of fashion, but the techniques are alive and well. Is that something you've seen?
Harding: I think that is right. There is perhaps a change in emphasis on the techniques used under the heading of 'SOA,' but certainly there was a point at which it became unpopular to go to your CIO and say, 'We have to do SOA,' but even that could be changing now. It [SOA] has had its ups, it has had its downs and perhaps it's on the up again. In practice, I think there has been a steady growth in its use.
What do you see taking place in terms of the convergence of disruptive technologies?
Harding: One of the key things I think is that enterprises often want to use these technologies [mobile, social, cloud] in combination with each other. Enterprises are gaining an advantage from using big data, but the source of a lot of that information is from social media. That is an example of a convergence of technologies -- big data and social computing using innovation.
In terms of cloud computing, quite often the processing of information is done in the cloud and that will be increasingly the case. The economics of cloud computing make it an excellent way to handle big data processing.
How do these changes affect the work of architects? What do they need to be prepared for?
Harding: Enterprise architects will specify building blocks -- the things needed in their enterprise to work together to do what they need them to do. Those architects need to be aware of the convergence of these technologies. What is coming out of [the Open Group] work is that there are certain common patterns that appear. There are common patterns for the use of big data, there are common patterns for the use of social networks and so on. It's how these will fit together to deliver what the enterprise needs that is the architect's challenge.
How do the Internet of Things and disruptive technologies relate to SOA?
Harding: I think that the service paradigm is the way that these technologies are going to be accessed and used. People will look to a service interface, for example, to access devices out in the Internet of Things. Obviously they use Web services to access social media and gain information from the social network provider to gain insights on popularity. The idea of the service as the basic means of access to these technologies is well established, but it may turn out to be a slightly different idea of service from how things originally developed in SOA, it may be more of the micro services level.
Maxine Giza is the site editor for SearchSOA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.