Enabling this new Web 2.0 functionality requires increased content and infrastructure flexibility – which is where SOA comes into play. When you combine SOA with Web 2.0, you get two related approaches focusing on connecting people and systems together more easily, making software and data available for reuse via services, and building new value upon the foundation of existing information resources and IT assets.
And this comes back to the heart of SOA itself – the development of new value from pre-existing software. The availability of adequate pre-existing resources means that developing entirely new applications is deemed unnecessary when the base resources are already in place. SOA is a common-sense approach to software development. When combined with Web 2.0 mashups, new applications can quickly, easily be written and implemented, at a lower cost. IT is able to reduce cycle time and time to market – more rapidly address application backlog and serve the business with speed and agility.
Yet there are risks associated with SOA and web 2.0 mashups too. These stem from the fact that SOA is a new initiative and merging it with Web 2.0 is even newer. The fact that it is introducing major changes to the way a company develops its applications contains an inherent risk associated with any such new development methodology. It will take time for IT professionals to adapt to the way SOA applications are developed and maintained, which is completely different from developing and maintaining bespoke applications.
Another risk with SOA is the issue of change control and SOA governance. If an SOA service changes, it could have an impact on a number of applications and therefore have a detrimental effect on a company’s systems, whereas if you change a module within a single application, the impact is much smaller. The upshot of this is that SOA interfaces have to be well defined, documented and tightly controlled from a change point of view, hence a need for strict SOA governance.
Overall, the potential for creating Web 2.0 mashups using SOA far outweighs the risks and potential drawbacks. Both Web 2.0 and SOA are burgeoning industries in themselves and the potential to collaborate between the two could deliver new, high-quality applications in a short space of time. The Google Maps example is only the start – as soon as businesses realise the potential that this field could deliver, the world of application development is their oyster.
Sergey Karas, vice-president of global strategy, Luxoft