What is web-oriented architecture?


You’ve finally got your head around service-oriented architecture (SOA) – but now a new acronym threatens to create panic amongst the IT organisation: web-oriented architecture (WOA).

WOA encompasses some big aims and hopes to spread the good work of service-orientation to web-based applications. Are the aims realistic, or are we really looking at the next piece of vendor spin?

Well, the good news is the term emerged from outside the supplier community. Gartner vice president Nick Gall lays claim to first using the term in 2005, suggesting WOA describes a web-centric method for undertaking web services.

The method normally adheres to the principles of representational state transfer (REST), a collection of network architecture constraints that outline how resources are defined and addressed.

More broadly, WOA is about taking an external view to service-orientation and applying the principles of internal SOA to contacts and resources beyond the firewall.

WOA uses REST as its building block, allowing developers to rapidly add application programming interfaces (APIs), mash-ups and other web-based software.

So where as SOA provides a means for linking and re-using components, WOA becomes apparent at the user interface and focuses on the ways services are delivered to consumers.

So much for definitions and methodologies, is WOA actually being used as a strategy? The bad news is that the picture is confused.

Google ‘web-oriented architecture’ and you can see that plenty of people are talking about the method. However, evidence of deployments remains limited.

Information Week recently reported that Amazon is a keen promoter of REST and WOA, using a strategy that gives internal and external developers access to its product database. The result is increased levels of innovation.

The magazine also reports that big providers are showing increased interest in web-orientation, with IBM’s WOA-based framework Project Zero due to be released later this year.

All the progress sounds interesting. But beyond issues of semantics, is there any real difference between SOA and WOA? Isn’t web-orientation just another flavour of SOA?

I guess the real answer will come as more web-based deployments become apparent. Then we’ll able to know whether WOA is significant, rather than tasting like a familiar piece of vendor spin.

Information Week article on WOA:
http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/soa/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=209904293

 


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