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ZapThink: Registry/repository lies at the heart of SOA

A recent white paper from the SOA-focused analyst firm seeks to add some clarity to the SOA market, placing registry/repository offerings at the center of the SOA design.

If you read all the news articles, opinion pieces and blogs on SOA and are still confused about what the standards are doing and what the products are supposed to do, you are not alone. The SOA landscape is not all that clear, says Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC who scopes this stuff out for a living. He uses words like "muddled" and "confused" when talking about some standards and product offerings. But looking on the bright side, at least he doesn't use the word "chaotic."

Lifecycle management and governance represent key problem areas that customers are looking to vendors to address.
Jason Bloomberg
Senior AnalystZapThink LLC

So take heart, you may not be confused sort so much as you are looking at a confusing picture.

Bloomberg points out that it isn't the analyst's job to clarify the SOA picture. The architects, standards bodies and vendors will have to do that themselves, eventually. In the meantime, he's written a white paper, "Making Sense of SOA Governance, Service Lifecycle Management, Registries & Repositories" to provide an overview of where things stand now, muddled as some aspects may be.

The paper, released this month, and available for free download from LogicLibrary Inc. at (registration required), makes it perfectly clear that SOA governance has a way to go.

The purpose of the report is to help those contemplating and doing SOA development to understand what vendors offer what capabilities for governance.

To help the reader understand which vendors are doing what, Bloomberg has created a chart dividing the SOA governance marketplace into five (probably not so easy) pieces: Registry/Repository in the center surrounded by linking circles for Service Lifecycle Management Platforms, Policy Management Tools, Design Time SOA Governance Tools and Runtime SOA Governance Tools.

Bloomberg points out that Registry/Repository is central not only in his chart but in SOA governance itself. Infravio Inc., LogicLibrary, Flashline Inc., SOA Software Inc., Software AG and Systinet Corp. (now a division of Mercury Interactive Corp.) have been the most prominent vendors in the space.

Despite the "dynamic" nature of the current market, the ZapThink analyst does not discourage those doing SOA development from working with what is available. Further, he concludes that it is up to the architects of real world projects to drive the development of the technology.

"After all," Bloomberg writes, "SOA is architecture and that architecture should drive the purchasing decisions for products that enterprises will need to implement SOA instead of allowing the products to drive the architecture."

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He further argues that SOA's architecture-first orientation accounts from some of the flux in the marketplace since vendors tend to build tools to address real-world applications that developers are working on rather than anticipating future problems and needs.

This has been especially true, Bloomberg says, of the key registry/repository area.

"In the early days of the registry/repository market," he writes, "it was as yet unclear that these products were appropriate for Service lifecycle management or SOA governance. Now, however, lifecycle management and governance represent key problem areas that customers are looking to vendors to address. Fortunately for the vendors in this space, the metadata management capabilities they hammered out a few years back are precisely the technology they need to craft effective SOA governance solutions."

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