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REST and relaxation in SOA

SOA has promised simplicity and REST seems to be emerging as a favorite among those seeking programmatic ways to achieve that simplicity.

One of the questions I tend to ask users about service-oriented architecture is "Has it made your life easier?"

Obviously SOA isn't easy to do. You don't re-orient how your app dev shop builds applications and draft a comprehensive enterprise architecture plan without encountering a high degree of difficulty. If SOA was easy then there wouldn't be any need to waste electrons talking about it. Yet the hard work of implementing it is supposed to lead to a smoother situation.

It should lead to less coding. It should lead to shorter project cycles. It should lead to better business-IT alignment. Some form of simplicity should be part of the bargain.

While no one originally envisioned Representation State Transfer (REST) as part of the SOA mix when service-orientation began to take hold earlier in this decade, REST does plug right into the notion that simplicity should be central to SOA. First, and most importantly, REST is simple. It leverages HTTP with a minimal amount of fuss. Burton Group in particular has been high on REST of late, first calling it the next big thing in SOA, then noting it's ideal for data services because it focuses directly on data instead of process.

REST, theoretically, can be a great aid when it comes to minimal coding and quick assembly. If you're breaking down your applications to component services then REST should be easier to unplug than more involved coding styles. Of course, one potential problem is it hasn't been made enterprise grade yet, but that is about to change.

IBM has kicked off its REST-based incubator, Project Zero, and Mulesource has hired XFire creator Dan Diephouse to head up its REST tooling efforts. This week we'll be kicking off our news coverage with Microsoft's entry of a new acronym, MEST for Messaging Exchange State Transfer, into the programming arena. It's related to REST and you can bet there will be more to follow. Expect a lot of folks cluttering up the market with REST-based plans directed at making your life simpler. Funny how that works.


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