Industrywide standards can be the oxygen that allows the fires of tech adoption and innovation to spread. Sadly, however, industry-backed efforts to craft standards often run afoul of competing corporate prerogatives.
Examples are almost too numerous to mention: Authentication giant RSA is sitting out of the Initiative for Open AuTHentication (OATH), a tech industry collaboration to develop open reference architecture for strong authentication. Cisco, which practically coined the term network access control, took its ball and went home when it concluded that the Trusted Computing Group’s efforts on TNC (Trusted Network Connect), an open architecture for end-point compliance, didn’t jive with its business plans. The company has promised instead to push its own NAC architecture as a standard — eventually.
Maybe that’s why the news last week from the Open SOA Collaboration (OSOA) was so heartening. Here you have executives from rivals such as BEA, IBM, Oracle, and SAP on the same conference call to say they are not only supporting but are actually making real progress on specifications for a language-neutral programming model for application development within SOA environments.
Behind the OSOA effort is an urgent need. As more companies deploy Web services, developers are calling for standardized ways for integrating third-party SOA technologies.
Under the banner of SOA collaboration, the companies, along with Iona Technologies, Sybase, Xcalia, and Zend Technologies, first got together in November to begin work on the common programming model. Last week, they reported progress on two projects: an SCA (service component architecture) and SDOs (service data objects).
In short, SCA defines models for creating and assembling service components for building SOAs. SDO provides a consistent method for data handling within SOA applications.
Since November, the group has expanded the SCA specifications to include full support for BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) and the PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) Web scripting language, as well as integration with the Spring Java development framework and EJB. The SDO specifications have been revamped to be more flexible and include support for unstructured data, said Jeff Mischkinsky, director of Web services standards at Oracle.
The companies expect to submit SCA and SDO to an unnamed standards body by year’s end, according to Michael Bechauf, vice president of industry standards at SAP.
In contrast to the work going on at OASIS, OSOA’s work is focused on SOA development rather than best practices and preparation for SOA deployment, said Ed Cobb, vice president of architecture and standards at BEA.
One sign that the effort is gaining momentum is that the alliance has more than doubled in size, adding nine new members, notably Progress Software, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems.
“We’ve got a wide set of supporters, which is tantamount to gaining acceptance in the industry,” Cobb said.