Web-Oriented SOA

A little while ago I expressed my dislike for the term WOA on the grounds that it refers to a style of SOA and my feeling that new TLAs just lead to more confusion. Its good to see the ZapThink guys are in full agreement and state their case in their trademark inimitable style.

While the WOA concept does indeed provide deeper insights into how to best implement a Service and create an infrastructural approach for scaling Services, we simply don’t see a need to identify this as a truly separate architectural approach…

ZapThink believes that the term Web-Oriented SOA represents greater clarity than WOA, since it disambiguates the desire to position WOA as an alternative to SOA as well as more accurately positions the concept at a lower level of abstraction than the SOA concept. Going forward, hence, we will prefer the term Web-Oriented SOA over WOA, since it provides greater clarity. And clarity is exactly what companies today need to make SOA a reality.

My emphasis added – hear hear!

But I still have a problem with this terminology. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and the use of “oriented” twice in the same term is really ugly. Moreover, we’re still mixing two levels of abstraction into the same term.

“Web Oriented” is a reference to the style of implementation of the Services which comprise the SOA. So wouldn’t it be better to use the terminology “Web Oriented Services”?

To take it a step further, I think we can do better than “Web Oriented” in categorizing the Service implementation. The two main Service implementation patterns that we have in the current debate are implementations based on Web Services standards (ws-*) and those based on REST. A key differentiator between these implementation styles is that Web Services are based on an “interface description” of the service, whereas REST is based on a “resource” as the key entity that we operate on.

Hence I propose the terminology “Interface-Based Services” to refer to the ws-* Service implementations and “Resource-Based Services” to refer to Services implemented in a RESTful manner.

So at the top of the ontology we have SOA – our architecture comprised of Services as first-order citizens. Those Services may in turn be Interface-Based or Resource-Based in their implementation. Note that an SOA could quite easily comprise a combination of Resource-Based and Interface-Based Services.

I think this nomenclature is clearer…but it won’t catch on because these are not TLAs!