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BEA, The Middleware Co. create SOA blueprints

BEA Systems and The Middleware Company (TMC) have jointly published a set of 'blueprints' for developing and implementing applications that use Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs), the two companies disclosed last week.

The result of the joint effort, the SOA Blueprints, is based on an open specification that defines a fictitious corporation -- GeneriCo -- that has decided to standardize on SOA as its main application architecture. The 'blueprint' uses this ersatz enterprise as a vehicle for defining a complete environment that consists of a set of intercommunicating applications.

'SOA Blueprints is novel in that it models an entire corporation that contains multiple applications,' TMC COO Tyler Jewell told eADT. 'It includes an open specification defining these apps, architecture neutrality and a number of use cases that model real-world business applications. When it's all put together, you get a blueprint for how SOAs should be used in the enterprise and a wonderful model for best practices.'

The basic idea behind SOA Blueprints -- to provide an example for developers and establish best practices -- is not exactly new. Sun Microsystems did it with its J2EE-based PetStore project, as did Microsoft with its .NET-based PetShop project. Even the open-source community had its PetSoar Project. But rather than focusing on a single example, Jewell explained, SOA Blueprints seeks to model the business operations of an entire company, including existing resources (such as a payroll system) that are utilized to demonstrate how applications may be integrated using SOA-based solutions. Also, the industry domain of GeneriCo has deliberately been left vague so that this specification may be applicable to as many organizations as possible, the companies said.

'Unlike, say, the J2EE PetStore, which is only done in J2EE and only has one implementation, we've set this up in such a way that you can have many different implementations using any number of technologies,' Jewell said. 'It can be done in Web services, it can be done in J2EE, and it can be done in .NET.'

Although SOA Blueprints will focus on promoting and supporting SOA, the specification has been designed to be understood by both architects and enterprise developers, and implementable using existing enterprise technologies, Jewell said. There are no restrictions on how the technology is used to implement the specification, so Web services, J2EE and .NET are options. The only requirements are that business processes can be created that consume services and other resources; that these processes can be exposed as services through HTTP and message broker technologies; and that applications can be built from services in a portal environment.

BEA formally announced the publication of SOA Blueprints at its eWorld user conference, held last week in San Francisco's recently opened Moscone West conference center. The theme of the show, 'Deploy SOA Now,' underscored the San Jose, Calif.-based infrastructure company's bet on SOA to help the company expand its offerings beyond middleware platforms WebLogic and Tuxedo. BEA officials contend that IT organizations can utilize SOA to make operations more efficient and responsive to business needs. Cornelius Willis, BEA's vice president of developer marketing, told eADT that SOA Blueprints demonstrates that the time has come to implement Service-Oriented Architectures enabled by Web services.

'The fact that we are doing this emphasizes where we are relative to our competitors,' Willis said in an interview. 'We have an implementation in the market today, and we're ready to start showing customers how it's done; [we are] ready to give this kind of prescriptive direction.'

Although BEA is sponsoring the development of the SOA Blueprints specification, Willis said, TMC is brokering the spec. This means that TMC is in charge of recruiting the expert group, working with BEA's competitors to get feedback, and propagating the spec throughout the industry.

Mountain View, Calif.-based TMC, a wholly owned unit of Veritas Software, is seeking a public review of the SOA Blueprints spec through its TheServerSide.com online community for enterprise Java architects and developers. The company is also hosting a dedicated 'landing page' at http://www.middlewareresearch.com where, in addition to the SOA Blueprints spec, visitors can get BEA's early implementations, timelines, roadmaps and a list of vendors that have signed up to participate in the program. The site will also list those vendors' SOA projects.

'SOAs are quickly becoming the de facto standard for how companies think about setting up their large-scale systems,' TMC's Jewell said. 'But despite all the talk from vendors and the industry about SOAs, there haven't been many good examples to show companies what they need to do and how to go about doing it. SOA Blueprints is the first effort in the industry to explain how SOA should be used, and to provide examples using a number of different technologies.'

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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