Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Red Hat takes SOA modeling tool concept to open source development

In an attempt to add grease to the skids of SOA adoption, Red Hat has agreed to take a patented concept for a services modeling approach and usher it through an open source community development process before eventually adding it to the JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform.

Red Hat announced today that SOA expert and author Thomas Erl's concept for a services modeling and analysis tool will form the basis for a new JBoss.org project, the results of which will become a LGPL product that will be then be supported under the JBoss SOA offerings.

The tool-in-progress is designed to fill a gap in the market for a top-down, platform-agnostic way for non-developers to assess a business process and determine the required services that would comprise the process within a SOA environment. Erl said the tool will be a first in terms of its utility.

The way in which the tool incubates and arrives may also be unique. I'm assuming that Erl was compensated in some way by Red Hat for his intellectual property in defining the tool. And Red Hat will guide the community development process, and reap the rewards of a commercial open source model when it charges for subscription support and training for the tool and its associated SOA platform.

Perhaps more of us should be patenting ideas for software products and services, and then pitching them to Red Hat. I've always liked the idea of a cottage industry for enterprise software.

Anyway, the modeling tool as defined to date targets technical analysts so they can create a business-centric design of services, or containers of services, that combine to provide a business process or processes. The tool helps conceptualize and refine an inventory or blueprint of services, to then set the stage for the actual creation or acquisition of the requisite services, explained Erl. Managing multiple inventories also becomes easier via the tool's design.

Erl hopes the tool fosters better collaboration between analysts and SOA architects. It should help coordinate their group planning for services development and to provide a framework for iterative or Agile back-and-forth services creation with an end business process in mind.

The goal is to address the needs in the market today, to get the ball rolling on modeling for SOA, and also to be easily extensible to work within other SOA modeling initiatives -- such as UML-based work by OMG and others -- as they mature.

Community development may also create interfaces or plug ins for the service inventories to map to UDDI generally, as well as lead to specific connectors to registries and repositories.

Erl also published today a new book, "SOA: Principles of Service Design," which better fleshes out his concepts and methods on service engineering.

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