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xml schemaSOAsmart endpointserviceinternetintegration 6 Jan 2008 8:04 PM
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Dumb Network, Smart Endpoints by kvandersluis

I see a growing trend to draw lessons on how to develop services from the basic design of the internet itself. The internet maximizes scalability and resilience into a platform proven as an engine for innovation. Doesn't it make sense to model SOA implementation on these same core principles? Ganesh Prasad states it simply (http://wisdomofganesh.blogspot.com/2007/12/paying-restafarians-back-in-their-own.html):

 

The Internet philosophy is "Dumb network, smart endpoints" (remembering of course, that the network isn't really "dumb", just deliberately constrained in its smartness to do nothing more than resilient packet routing).

 

While Ganesh's blog is taking aim at REST supporters, his overall theme is that SOA only works when the intelligence is built into the endpoints, rather than building too much intelligence into the network. By using the native language of SOA, XML and its associated standards, we maximize the benefits of the SOA:

 

So now define document contracts using an XML schema definition language and a vocabulary of your choice (for Banking, Insurance or Airlines), stick those conforming XML documents into the body of the SOAP messages we've been talking about, and ensure that your message producers and consumers have dependencies only on those document contracts. Ta-da! Loosely coupled components! Service-Oriented Architecture!

 

These sentiments are shared by Jim Webber of ThoughtWorks, in an interview at QCon London, describing his concept of Guerilla SOA (http://www.infoq.com/interviews/jim-webber-qcon-london):

 

Instead of sharing types, I think we should start to share business messages, or schemas for business messages, owned not by the technical people, but by the business people.

 

Finally, Paul Freemantle, VP of Technology of WSO2, talks about the technical foundations of his company's ESB in his article, "Reclaiming the ESB" (http://wso2.org/library/2913). Consistent with comments above, Paul also expresses the importance of defining the business message. He says the way to achieve simplicity of integration, flexibility, and compartmentalization is by "...pushing a common format throughout the enterprise and making endpoints deal with that format".

 

The main point in these articles is that the value of SOA is derived from having smart endpoints, defined by services that exchange business-centric information. If you are an XAware user, you already know that XAware is designed specifically to facilitate the creation of information-rich services in a contract-first, schema-based style. The resulting service is a smart endpoint, ready to be exploited by any program or process, connected via a dumb network.



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