By Jack Vaughan
What were the problems with Grid computing? Basically, it was too complicated and of too narrow use. But, let’s be frank and earnest, its biggest problem was that the term ‘Grid’ was too rigid and inflexible. That problem of Grid computing has been easily solved. Its name was changed to ‘cloud computing,’ a light and airy term with flexible connotation. Of course, I am kidding; cloud will not solve all the problems of Grid just by the change of a name.
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The same was the case when object technology met SOA. For distributed systems, SOA was supposed to surmount issues objects were unable to overcome. Maybe this could happen, but over how much time? The vendors tended to speak as though this was a revolution, an overnight revolution.
History shows that SOA – like objects, like Grid, like cloud – took time to happen. Technical visionaries can see new tomorrows, but getting the whole world on board takes time. These points were driven home for us recently during conversation with Toufic Boubez, a veteran of the object era and an early leader in both Web services and SOA. He reminded us that humans tend to get excited and ‘forgot the patterns of the past.’ He likens the evolution of SOA to that of objects. It can take 10 to 15 years for a cycle to be established. Remember, objects only became mainstream when they turned into “Java” and “.NET.”
More from Boubez: “Now, lo and behold, we’re ten years into SOA, about the same time frame, where at the beginning everybody thought “Alright, service orientation is going to be the next big thing in a couple years, everyone will be doing service orientation and Web services.” Where, in reality, just because of momentum and all kinds of established procedures and established mechanisms, it takes a while for big corporations and organizations to move. Another 10 to 15 years and here we are. I think we keep forgetting the time it takes for these cycles. That’s one thing I learned from being exposed to these two big waves.”
A lot of present disaffection with SOA is just pure laziness – a wish for instant gratification, an aversion to the real work of IT. Like the story of the silver bullet technology, you have heard the admonition that work is hard before. The savvy technologist will measure the true path of cloud computing by thinking in terms of 10 to 15 years as well. It is a good timeframe for sober SOA analysis too. Don’t give up too soon, just to jump on the next merry-go-round. Be sure to read both our Q&As with Boubez On the road to SOA – Part 1, Early insights and On the road to SOA – Part 2, Governance is fundamental. There’s more to learn from this SOA pioneer.