This BLOG is a reaction to the post by Scott Andersen, IASA Fellow, published on 29 Oct., 2012, at IASA’s Thoughts on Enterprise and Technology Architecture.
In the BLOG, Scott points to new fantastic gadgets – Meta-Watch and BlackBerry connected watch – that are on their way to the consumers and expected by the end of this year. These watches are linked with iPhone, Android or BlackBerry and can display the telephone’s screen. Adorably! Scott says that the screen will be (may be?) represented as a service.
It is a good news but what is in this service that a regular Service-Oriented Architecture, a SOA, cannot do and something named “SOA 3.0” is needed? Actually, I never understood what SOA 2.0 could do that just SOA could not (besides raising a new wave of buzz and collecting some money from naiive customers). Scott warns that his post is only his “humble opinion and in all cases should be taken as such”. Well, if this the opinion of such a professional as Scott Andersen, I am interested in understanding if it brings something that I missed and I could learn from it.
So, Scott explains regarding SOA 3.0: “applications become aware not only of the device they are on and its capacity (the consumption concept of my earlier SOA 2.0 blogs) but will also be aware of screens that are available. Imagine for a second the new world of advertising when your company can rent the displays in time square for a minute any day any time. The concept of the screen as a service. It truly begins the abstraction of the computer. Everything becomes a screen.” Nice (‘screen’) but not without a confusion.
The first question I address back to Scott’s “earlier SOA 2.0 blogs” – if mentioned application is a service’s body and if the concept is an awareness of computational resource consumption of the device (including computer) where the service is deployed, how this relates to an architecture? Algorithms of load-balancing consumer requests for distributed applications/services depending on local load of machines are known for the last decade and this does not add any new aspect or principle to the orientation on services. To me, dear Scott had mixed the architecture with its implementation (which is a common problem in IT) that time.
Assume I understand what does mean ‘a screen is a service’. Business functionality of such service is probably, an ability to display an arbitrary digital content. What is the problem here? Is it that the large screen on Time Square (a Scott’s example) still cannot accept and display a content on demand? Then why is this a service or SOA problem? Is it the format of showing images, or their order or the colour scheme? All these are just characteristics of the service, as usual. If we have a telephone screen materialised as a composite image at any moment of the time, it means that this image as a whole or as a set of fragments (remember old portletts) can be offered and delivered to consumers via pre-defined interfaces. Probably, I miss something in Scott’s explanations but I do not see any excitement in it from the SOA perspective that would deserve a special “SOA 3.0” name.
I’ve become even more confused when read that SOA 3.0 “actually lead us to a true reality the device as a service”. Device as a service exists and widely used even before printers became a network devised in Novell’s NetWare 3.x.
At the same time, I perfectly accept the idea – ‘The device as an integration unit’. Certainly, if a message-routing device known as ESB can do an integration work, why an iron on a chip cannot? What I would be very cautious with is saying that “the screen … is simply another point of integration”. What is meant here – a screen as an image, a screen as a portal, a screen as physical unit? An image cannot be a point of integration but rather a result of such an integration. A portal is known for years as an integration point (see my article Resolving RIA-SOA Conflict). A physical unit is a point of integration known to Ancient Romans who used such units for connecting water tubes.
Or, it may be the chain of hurricanes that Scott struggles with. I am sitting in calm London (after the jubilee and Olympic Games) and do not fee a beauty of mystic SOA 3.0. Poor me.