Last week WSO2 released a REST-based SOA registry, joining Mulesource, which released a REST-based SOA registry in January. Together they’re doing something we haven’t seen a lot of in the SOA space over the past few years: they’re innovating.
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So much energy has been poured into establishing standards, building out distinct product markets and fleshing out platforms that it’s been a while since we’ve seen much in the way of innovation. Early in this decade the ESB, the services registry, Web services management software and XML networking hardware pushed the IT envelope. They gave users a way to combine applications in a whole new way. Suddenly component assembly was on the table and loosely coupled, autonomous, stateless, composable, reusable services moved from theory to reality.
The REST-based registry isn’t likely to create that sort of paradigm shift, but it does shake up a marketplace that may be getting a bit complacent. Both of these releases are open source and both try to support the service-oriented concept of discoverability without using the UDDI standard. You might be asking, isn’t SOA supposed to be standards-based? Well, yes, it is, but that doesn’t mean that UDDI has to be one of those standards. REST is built on the HTTP standard. It also opens up the question of how can we better enable the princples of service orientation?
I’m not implying WSO2 and Mulesource have found a better way to build a registry, UDDI may still be the gold standard as far as that’s concerned, but they have opened up the subject for debate by attacking discoverability in a new way. They also might be setting the table for the next wave of innovation in SOA. Going back to a December podcast with Forrester Research’s John Rymer, the area of dynamic business applications begs for real-time innovation. Perhaps Microsoft’s Oslo initiative will break ground in model-driven design. IBM may be unveiling its REST-based Project Zero this spring.
Wherever the innovation comes from, we need to remember that it will come. We’ve been conditioned to think of SOA as a set of products and standards that popped up seven years ago, but what it really entails is an approach to technology that will allow you to best incorporate the next wave of innovation … and the one after that … and the one after that. These REST-based registries may be the precursors of advances to come.