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SOA’s Secret Decoder Ring

December 22, 2010 No Comments

This time of year, I always revisit “A Christmas Story.” It’s a family tradition – in fact, right now, I’m writing this by the “soft glow of electric sex, gleaming in the window.” That’s right: We have our very own miniature leg lamp replica, which my husband hauls out every Christmas and proudly displays in the living room.

One scene that I think nicely summarizes the commercial hazards of childhood is the “Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring” scene, in which Ralphie earns a ring after drinking Ovaltine all summer. But when he uses the ring to decode Annie’s secret message, he’s disappointed to learn it reads: “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.”

Talk about a dirty trick. Still, sometimes I think it’d be useful to have a decoder ring – like, for instance, when you talk about SOA. And as it turns out, The Open Group has recently published just such a tool – but without the crummy commercial at the end.

Heather Kreger and Dr. Chris Harding had the unenviable task of briefing me on The Open Group’s new SOA Ontology Technical Standard. Bless their hearts (as we say in the south when we feel sorry for someone).

They are certainly qualified. Kreger is the co-chair for The Open Group’s SOA Work Group, as well as IBM’s lead architect for Smarter Planet, Policy, and SOA Standards in the IBM Software Group, with 15 years of standards experience. Harding is The Open Group’s SOA Working Group forum director, the primary author of “The SOA Sourcebook,” and holds a Ph.D in mathematical logic. So, smart people – clearly up to the task.

Can you guess who was the weakest link here?

So I’m not even going to try to explain the complexities of the SOA ontology – which you can view for yourself. But thanks to their patience, I can tell you why it’s a good thing and long overdue. Here’s a short list of what I thought were the key points for those who deal with SOA and vendors without actually having to be knee-deep in the technicalities of it:

  • Don’t be thrown by the word “ontology.” This is not about the semantic Web or anything like that. This ontology just defines all the terms you find thrown about with SOA – services, processes, choreography versus collaboration and so on. Think of it as a glossary for architects, vendors and others involved in the more technical aspects of SOA. This isn’t as straight-forward as you may think – as Harding pointed out, SOA gets the term “services from the business,” but there’s a difference in the meaning. That’s just one barrier techies encounter when they try to explain SOA or talk about services with business users.

Read More of Loraine Lawson’s Blog Post

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