Enterprise Integration: Don’t Look Down !

Can SOA truly be successful if service consumers have to be technology consumers? The service layer is supposed to insulate us from the technical complexities and dependencies of the enabling technology, but I see more and more the technology being the centre of attention.

The promise of Web Serivces whilst standardising on the logical notion of integration,  has embroiled us in a complexity relating not to the ‘act’ of exchanging documents, but instead relating to the diversity within the Enterprise, the various technologies and tools used across a widely disparate ecosystem, and debating the finer details of which interpretations of which standards we want to use.

More significantly the large deployed base of messaging software, and the service endpoints exposed to MQ or JMS endpoints are left out of the handle-cranking associated with the synchronous style of endpoint. As such – a SOA layering ‘consistency’ across such a diverse ecosystem is a myth in my experience. We’re still struggling to find the SOA ‘blue-touch-paper’ despite all of the top-down justification and policy.

I believe that until we push the technology further down towards the network such that it becomes irrelevant to the service consumer, and raise the service interaction higher up in terms of decoupling the ‘interaction’ from the ‘technology’ we are going to struggle to not only justify the benefit of service orientation, but more significantly we’ll continue to struggle to justify the inevitable rework and technical implications of that service orientation in mandating conformance to brittle and transient technical standards.

I’m going to explore an approach to doing this – by encapsulating middleware facilities as RESTian resources, and then looking at the bindings between WSDL generated stubs and these infrastructure resources…effectively removing technologies (apart from the obvious RESTian implications) from the invocation of a web-service. Various header indicators can flex QoS expectations in the service invocation (i.e. synch or asynch, timeouts, exception sinks etc) but that has no relationship to any given protocol or infrastructure type. Furthermore, the existence of such a set of ‘resource primitives’ would enable direct interaction where WSDL-based integration does not yet exist…where I resolve, send, receive and validate though direct interaction with RESTian services from any style of client-side application.

This is motivated purely by the belief that, much like the chap in the picture, our focus is on the endpoint and not what lies beneath…

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