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OASIS creates SOA reference model, adopts blueprints

A new OASIS specification aims to eliminate all ambiguity surrounding service-oriented archcitectures, once and for all.

OASIS has taken steps to create a key specification to drive the adoption of service-oriented architecture (SOA).

At the OASIS Symposium in New Orleans last week, standards developers and users formed the SOA Reference Model (RM) technical committee, whose aim will be to create a standard nomenclature for SOA.

"The term SOA is used in an increasing number of contexts with differing --and even conflicting -- meanings," said Duane Nickull of Adobe Systems Inc., chairman of the OASIS SOA-RM technical committee, in a statement. "The reference model we create will be useful for the entire industry, offering a way to preserve a common layer of understanding across multiple service-oriented environments and architectures."

The OASIS electronic business service-oriented architecture (ebSOA) technical committee created the SOA-RM to focus on the lower level aspects of SOA definition, such as services, policies, contracts and other components.

"In addition to vendors, there is a significant contingent of SOA end users from across the globe rallying around this work to define the basic, common elements of any service-oriented system," said James Bryce Clark, director of standards development at OASIS, in a statement.

These include government agencies such as Japan's Electronic Commerce Promotion Council, Canada's Public Works and Government Services and the U.S.'s Department of Homeland Security, as well as users that include Boeing, General Motors Co., Lockheed Martin Co., Mitre Co. and VISA, Clark said.

The SOA Blueprints

The RM defines an abstract framework that describes the relationships and semantics between entities. To complement this, a group of vendors and end users is working to create an SOA Blueprints technical committee at OASIS that defines a concrete specification for building real-world, service-oriented applications.

"The Blueprints is a functional specification -- a literal blueprint from which implementations can, and will, be built," said Miko Matsumura, vice president of marketing at Cupertino, Calif.-based Infravio and leader of the SOA Blueprints group working on developing the OASIS technical committee. "Ultimately, the Blueprints will rely on definitions built in to the reference model."

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The SOA Blueprints was an industry initiative led by Mountain View, Calif.-based The Middleware Company (TMC), in conjunction with a consortium of vendors and thought leaders in the enterprise Java market. Last November, when the research arm of TMC was discontinued, leading middleware providers and implementers formed a steering committee to determine the fate of SOA Blueprints.

"This steering committee served to coordinate customer opportunities and agreed to approach the WS-I [Web Services Interoperability Organization] and OASIS on the Blueprints," Matsumura said. "It was determined that the WS-I was more focused on interoperability for existing specifications, and that OASIS was a better home."

Once standardized, software providers will be able to implement SOA Blueprints using their own technologies, creating an industry-wide gallery of SOA best practices and patterns for customers.

"We fully expect implementations to be made available as public 'live' demonstrations, as well as documented source code for the purpose of evaluation," Matsumura said.

This will in turn generate enthusiasm and excitement for specific technology implementations and strategies, and kick start enterprise SOA projects with real working source code, he added.

According to Matsumura, the current version of SOA Blueprints will likely be referred to as the SOA core profile and will provide a standard implementation example application across multiple vendors and technologies.

To date, Microsoft, BEA Systems Inc. and Diamelle Systems have completed their implementations of SOA Blueprints, which are available for study. Oracle Corp., SAP AG, Sun Microsystems Inc. and a host of other vendors are also working on implementations.

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