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Is WOA Phony?

| by Mark Little Follow 14 Followers on Nov 05, 2008. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Over the past year or so we've seen more and more discussion and debate around WOA. Does it bring anything new to the debate over, say, REST? Is it different to SOA? In fact should SOA adopt WOA? What about WOA governance? Through all of the confusion and murkiness around the term, one thing is clear: this could be yet another battle on the scale of REST versus WS-*, or VHS versus Betamax. Recently Judith Hurwitz entered the fray with her article Why I think Web Oriented Architecture is Phony. As she says in the article:

So, from what I can see the positioning is that SOA is about back end services and protocols like SOAP, etc. and WOA is about cool web protocols like REST, etc.  So, perhaps we are supposed to say, thank goodness that we can move away from SOA and find something new and exciting to focus on.

She disagrees that SOA is about back-end protocols and services. In fact ...

Protocols like REST that provide stateless communication are, in fact, an integral part of a service oriented architecture.

Obviously REST is an architecture and not a 'protocol', but we can ignore that for the purposes of this discussion. (Mark Baker points this out as well on the comment section to Judith's article). She goes on to say that the power of SOA is the fact that business can focus on creating the services that are key to their business functions as well as enabling those services to be used flexibly to create a plethora of agile business processes.

Companies are getting pretty creative with this approach. Not only are they creating business services involving software components, but they are tying those business services into business elements such as monitoring electric meters. [...] These customers don’t care if you call this approach SOA, WOA, or CASH…they simply know that it is allowing them the flexibility they never had before.The bottom line is that we simply don’t need another new acronym. SOA is not a fad, it is a long term business approach to turning IT and business assets into services that can be used as part of an evolving business process.

It does seem that Judith is missing what people like Dion Hinchcliffe are saying about WOA and SOA:

WOA is a really a sub-style of SOA that is actually highly complimentary. I personally believe we've collectively discovered that we've been spending the last few years on a course that just needs a healthy and appropriate re-adjustment, with the concepts in WOA helping us find a better way.

However, to conclude Judith has created an online poll to try to give a voice to the non-vocal majority and determine whether people believe 'Do you think we need something called Web Oriented Architecture?' As of the time of writing this article only 33% of voters thought the term WOA was needed. It doesn't say how many people have voted, so it's not really possible to determine how emphatic an opinion this is. However, Gartner analyst Nick Gall comments:

Hey, as of ~just past midnight 10/22, a third of the respondents think WOA is the wave of the future! I think that’s an amazingly high percentage. Rock on!

Not content with just one poll though, Nick has created his own 'Do you agree with Judith Hurwitz that WOA is phony?', which at this moment has 56% of people agreeing with Judith. Fortunately this poll gives the number of votes cast, which in this case is 9 so hardly a good statistical distribution to draw any analysis (without going into the fact that these 9 votes could be all from the same person!) So where does this leave us? Well if more people took the time to cast their vote (one vote per person please) we may be able to draw some conclusions from these polls. Without that the waters are still a little murky as far as WOA is concerned.

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not all votes for judith's poll are duplicates.... by Marcelo Lopez

And for that matter, could it be said that all 33% of respondents in favor of "WOA" are from the same person ? Perhaps it was you ? But I digress. While Dion has good points, his quote is rather taken a little out of context, don't you think ?

Everyone's falling over each other trying to extoll the "virtues" of WOA, and acting as though REST is somehow the 3rd coming. And whenever someone disagrees, they're lambasted as if they "don't get it". It's not that WS-* people "don't get it", it's that the REST community "can't sell it". And since you referenced the interview with Sanjeeva ; it almost seemed as though Stefan keeps trying to jab the REST shank at him. The man answered the question....No, REST is not "THE" answer. Does it work well for some things, yes. If you have two applications that between themselves agree to a URI representation standard for their resources, great ! But in no way does that lend itself to the broad set of problems out there. Is it a specification that can apply itself in the broadest of terms ? I don't have to answer, Sanjeeva already did.

Apparently not many people really bothered with thinking through his responses, and were more interested in furthering their own points of view.

And frankly, again to quote Sanjeeva, within WSDL 2.0, there is EVERYTHING ( well, if someone can point out something that'd be missing from it in this context, I've yet to see/hear of it ) that would be necessary to create RESTFUL HTTP services. One can only hope that it's only a matter of time before the REST community take their blinders off.

Re:" WSDL 2.0 [provides] EVERYTHING" by Anne Manes

All respect to Sanjiva, but ...

As Mark clarified, REST is an architectural style, not a protocol. The essence of this architectural style is resource-orientation rather than method-orientation.

WSDL 2.0 is hopelessly inadequate for describing an application or service that exposes its capabilities via a set of resources rather than methods/operations. WSDL is designed for describing method-oriented interfaces, and it can certainly describe the methods/operations that can be used to interact with a particular resource. But it does not provide the means to describe the set of resources and their relationships that *are* the service's interface.

I refuse to take this seriously by Mike Kelly

RPC/SOAP has failed practically because the only beneficiaries of the approach are developers, took a while for businesses to work it out but they got there eventually.

WOA is a significant subset of SOA, and the 'confusion' it causes is simply that of those with invested interests in keeping project creep to a maximum.

WOA will become redundant once everyone accepts that it is the only effective way of achieving SOA; in much the same way that when I say wheel you can be pretty sure I'm talking about one made of rubber and not wood.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: that article is pointlessto say the least. I mean.. "protocols like REST".. ok, Judith.

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