ADT at Gartner ITxpo: Analyst sees SOBA emerging as next trend in Web services

In an industry with no shortage of acronyms, Gartner is touting a new one, SOBA, or Service-Oriented Business Applications.

Leading a session at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2004, research director Charles Abrams told attendees that while the term was coined in the past two months, Gartner is predicting that SOBA will be a major technology trend in IT by 2007.

SOBA is part of the business process fusion that Gartner analysts see as bringing together business applications from different vendors on different platforms. As with its older sibling, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), SOBA builds on XML Web services standards to get apps running on Microsoft .NET and BEA WebLogic, for example, to work together as if they were one big happy business application.

The first SOBA implementations will be relatively simple SOAP- and WSDL-wrapped applications using XML to exchange data, according to Abrams. At the basic level of application integration, he noted that “SOBA needs a Web services sender and a Web services receiver.”

But as the technology advances over the next two years, as many as 24 standards, including WS-Security, SAML and even UDDI, the nearly forgotten Web services standard that could provide a directory of SOBA apps, will come into play, he added.

The Gartner research director acknowledged that many of the standards needed to create the ultimate level of application integration envisioned in SOBA are still works in progress at standards bodies such as OASIS.

“We will need the best part of this decade to sort those standards out,” Abrams said.

But while it is still more concept than technology, he insisted that SOBA is a big deal with major software vendors, including BEA, Microsoft and Oracle, who are working on application platforms to help implement it.

Abrams said SOBA is being driven by the “collaborative commerce” B2B market that, despite exaggerated reports of its death in 2000, will amount to $3 trillion globally in 2004.

With vendors and the market driving it, Abrams declared that “SOBA is not optional, it’s inevitable.”

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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