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Wakesoft answers SOA call

The primary advantage to the enterprise of a so-called Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is its ability to enable development of agile business processes and IT systems that are flexible enough to respond quickly to change. At least that's the conclusion of ZapThink senior analyst Jason Bloomberg.

In his recently published report "Service-Oriented Architecture Tools & Best Practices: Beyond Point-to-Point Web Services," Bloomberg contends that "Reworking existing brittle, high-cost IT infrastructures into flexible, Service-oriented architectures promises substantial long-term cost savings and revenue opportunities through increased business agility."

Other analysts agree. Gartner's Roy Schulte has written that "the single, most-important theme in modern application development is service-oriented architecture (SOA)." A report from the Stencil Group ("Web Services Rules: Real-World Lessons from Early Adopters") compared SOA to the just-in-time supply model that transformed manufacturing businesses from rigid, vertically integrated corporations into flexible, specialized operations. SOA, the report concludes, "... enable[s] a shift in enterprise software applications from monolithic stacks to more efficient, adaptable parts."

So why aren't corporate IT organizations clamoring to implement this latest incarnation of the distributed computing model in their companies? The problem, ZapThink's Bloomberg suggests, is a lack of tools coupled with an inadequate understanding of the best practices for building SOAs.

That's where companies like Wakesoft come in. The San Francisco-based start-up has been refining its software architecture platform for building and managing services-oriented systems since it was founded in 2000. Last week, the company unveiled Version 4 of the Wakesoft Architecture Platform, which is said to extend the firm's flagship Architecture Server by adding a software architecture solution that can deliver services-oriented systems and enable the real-time monitoring and management of those systems in production.

The Wakesoft Architecture Platform includes a new version of the Wakesoft Architecture Server and adds three new components, which, company officials say, work in combination to enable users to mitigate the risks of J2EE project delivery while preparing to implement larger SOA strategic initiatives. The new components include: Business Services Provisioning, a foundation for structuring the core business logic of a system into business services; an Architecture Monitor for monitoring both IT and business-level event information; and Architecture Manager, designed to provide greater control when modifying and managing systems at the functional level.

"Lots of vendors focusing on simplifying J2EE and Web services offer 'better, faster, cheaper,'" Wakesoft CEO Shirley Foster told eADT. "But rapid application development alone isn't the answer. RAD can result in compromises on the long-term quality of a system -- essentially, you end up creating instant-legacy apps. We all think of legacy as the stuff we developed 20 years ago, but the real problem is the stuff we delivered five years ago. Poorly constructed applications bring immeasurable long-term costs to the organization in terms of maintenance, reuse and integration. Furthermore, the business is unable to gain the level of visibility or service they need out of these systems," she explained.

If industry prognosticators are to be believed, Wakesoft is well positioned to take advantage of a powerful emerging enterprise IT trend. The ZapThink report predicts that companies will begin to accept service orientation this year, and predicts that SOA will become the dominant distributed computing approach by 2006. By 2010, 69% of the total enterprise software market will be service-oriented, according to the report, and the overall market for products and services that support service orientation will be more than $98 billion.

SOA is, of course, not really new. A form of distributed-objects architecture, it emerged with the advent of Web services around 2000. SOAs represent a model in which loosely coupled pieces of application functionality are distributed, combined and consumed with other applications over a network on an as-needed basis. The first service-oriented architectures used DCOM or Object Request Brokers (ORBs) based on the CORBA specification.

The Wakesoft Architecture Platform is now available on the IBM WebSphere and BEA WebLogic platforms. For more information, visit the company Web site at www.wakesoft.com.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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