Tag Archives: Service Oriented Architecture

WebSphere Service Registry and Repository Redbooks

One of the products I’ve been becoming increasingly involved with as part of my work at Hursley has been WebSphere Service Registry and Repository. Rather than redefine what the product is here, I’ll take a snippet from the WSRR FAQ:

WebSphere Service Registry and Repository is a system for storing, accessing and managing information, commonly referred as service metadata, used in the selection, invocation, management, governance and reuse of services in a successful SOA. In other words, it is where you store information about services in your systems, or in other organizations’ systems, that you already use, plan to use, or want to be aware of.

The Registry and Repository is becoming increasingly central to many SOA deployments and is strongly integrated with several of IBM’s runtimes (including hooks with my long-term product specialisms, WebSphere MQ and Message Broker).

Version 7 of WSRR was announced at the start of October (more on this later in the week), but in the meantime it’s worth noting that a great set of Redbooks and Redpapers for the current 6.3 release have recently hit the publications website:

Over the past few months I’ve gotten to know many of the IBMers who worked on these books and papers personally, and I have to say that they are the absolute experts on the topics. I know I’ll be reaching for these publications when I need to know my way around specific topic areas.

Making an IMPACT

Apparently there’s some Rational software conference in Orlando at the end of May. Of course, Lotusphere was out there at the beginning of the year too.

Pah! Forget those! 🙂

For me, the place to be is IBM’s IMPACT SOA conference in Las Vegas – in just a couple of weeks’ time. Barring unexpected circumstances, I should be in town for the duration of the conference.

IBM Impact 2009 - The Smart SOA™ Conference

I’ve been heading to Vegas on a regular basis for the past few years, but it has always been for internal events rather than customer ones. In my role, I’ve always been excited by technology and the innovation we get up to internally – but much, much more importantly, I need to be talking to customers and partners to understand how that technology and innovation is being used in the real world. I’m very much looking forward to talking to WebSphere and other IBM customers about their experiences with our products, what they are looking for from Service Oriented Architectures, and taking those messages back into our labs.

I’m also looking forward to finally meeting a bunch of my colleagues such as the legendarySocial Media Sandy” aka Sandy Carter herself, who I’ve known for a number of years now through various networks, but have never had the opportunity to talk to face-to-face. Incidentally, Sandy has some great background info about different events and partners at IMPACT on her developerWorks blog[*]. I’ve just read her most recent book, Marketing 2.0, and I’ll try to post some comments on that soon as well.

One nice feature of the conference site is that there are a range of widgets and social media tools directly available there, as well as links to different social networks where it will be possible to pick up some of the content.

Let me know if you’ll be at IMPACT, as it would be good to connect with my blog readers.

[*] I’m worried. Sandy has got nearly as many blogs and social network profiles as me now. I need to step up! 🙂

Review: SOA Approach to Integration

Disclosure: I was offered a copy of this book to review by the publisher. I should also re-iterate the statement the sidebar of my blog – opinions stated here are entirely my own and do not reflect my employer’s positions or opinions.

Although I’ve been working in the SOA space for quite a few years already, I don’t read too many books about it. I guess my education in this space has been largely driven by practical experiences over a number of years with technologies like DCE, MQ and web services. I did briefly write about Sandy Carter’s book earlier in the year, but that was the last book I read on the subject.

SOA Approach to Integration from Packt Publishing is billed as “XML, Web services, ESB, and BPEL in real-world SOA projects”. There are several authors, with differing backgrounds but with experience heavily weighted towards the Java world and (looking at their bios) with a somewhat academic / research-oriented slant, although they clearly do have real-world experience too. Given the range of organisations they have worked with, I picked up the book looking forward to getting a non-IBM view of the SOA world!

The book is divided into 6 chapters. Sadly, there is an inconsistent level of approach – evident from the preface. Chapter 1 covers integration challenges, so is doing the standard scene-setting. Chapter 2 is a discussion of what SOA is, and some of the foundation technologies. However, Chapter 3 then goes on to talk about “various design anomalies that may arise while designing XML schemas”, which is a significant change of pace!

Chapters 1 and 2 are actually interesting… I was happy to read about some of the history of SOA and the way in which technology has evolved over the past 20 years. I first started out in the industry after leaving university dealing with technologies like DCE and TP monitors (discussed on page 40), so this was familiar territory for me. As a foundational discussion these are useful essays… but sadly they do feel a little like essays, rather than a book that builds a coherent message from beginning to end. A little superficial.

There are a couple of sections of the book which deserve mention. At one point the authors refer to an organisational integration architecture as being like a “city plan”, which made me smile as this was an analogy I first heard used by my colleague and good friend Richard Whyte on a project we first worked on about 5 years ago!

The XML chapter I mentioned just before is pretty advanced stuff, and really jars after the first couple of more high-level chapters. That isn’t to say that this is bad… actually I thought that the topics covered, for example the need to define a data dictionary, and some of the practical advice offered such as the suggestion of validating XML at the edge of the ESB if at all, is extremely valuable. It just felt as though it didn’t quite fit at this point in this book! It really scratches the surface – the author admits that the advice given is “meant for consideration only when you already know your system very well”, and given that the first 2 chapters provided a tentative approach to the whole SOA space, this isn’t where I’d expect the reader to be at this point!

Chapters 4 goes backwards a little to an SOA overview, and goes on to describe the IBM patterns for e-business. It also talks about interoperable WSDL, and suggests creating web service clients in multiple technologies to validate and test interoperability, which is a useful idea. Sadly, the code samples do not appear to be available on the publisher’s website, despite the statement in the book that they would be. This is a particular issue in chapter 5, where the authors take their vendor-independence so seriously that they resort to writing BPEL by hand… the chapter is filled with chunks of XML which the reader is expected to be able to read without any kind of overview diagram, when in reality most vendors provide tools to build this stuff for you.

The book talks in detail about web services and the WS-* standards. These discussions are useful, but there is no reference to other forms of interaction, notably REST (for example; NB I talked about IBM’s evolving views on REST and WOA back in April last year).

Interestingly, Nick Hortovanyi’s predictions for 2008 (recently pinged to me by a contact on del.icio.us) suggest that WS-* may be on the wane in terms of SOA usage:

Adoption of the SOA Architecture Style within enterprises will increase. However, unless machine generated, WS-* style service adoption will decrease.

I certainly believe that REST is becoming more interesting in an enterprise context. WS-* is fairly complicated to get one’s head around when you look at them from an XML level, so machine-generated documents are clearly on the increase. Nick also at least references SCA and SDO in his predictions; this book entirely fails to mention either of these important SOA concepts.

From a technology perspective, the book does cover both the JEE and .NET worlds, but is far more heavily weighted towards the former, including a detailed discussion of emerging ideas like JBI. It did discuss a bunch of ideas that were “foreign” (to me) such as itineraries, Process Oriented Architecture (POA), and others that IBM doesn’t talk about… but overall these concepts were covered in a patchwork manner that left me somewhat confused.

My final issue is that I had to submit around 20 errata to the publisher. These ranged from typos (“interactiond”, “TrasformationService”, “isdone”, “buzz-world”) to product name inaccuracies and inconsistencies, to back references that didn’t exist, to the fact that the sample code is not available. Very disappointing. Furthermore, I’m yet to receive any confirmation or acknowledgement that the errata submissions were received.

Overall, I would say that the book is aimed at architects and senior developers and is useful in a few parts… but as a whole it doesn’t hang together. It reads more like a series of extended and disconnected essays at differing levels of detail and which repeat one another. More seriously, for the cover price I would have expected slightly more effort in the proofreading and production 😦