Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Open Group bridges SOA definitions gap with release of new technical standard SOA Ontology

In an effort to bridge the communication gap between business and IT over service oriented architecture (SOA), The Open Group today released a new ontology that helps better define the concepts, terms, and semantics involved in SOA.

The SOA Ontology Technical Standard bridges different architecture, engineering, business and marketing domains, providing common terminology and concept mapping that business and technical people can use to discuss problems and opportunities.

It will also serve as a foundation for further work in domain specific areas by supplying a consistent framework that can be reused as SOA projects evolve. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

“The release of the SOA Ontology will significantly benefit the industry considering the increased use of SOA within organizations, especially due to the rise of cloud adoption,” said Dr. Chris Harding, the Open Group’s SOA Work Group forum director. “It’s critical for business and technical executives across disciplines and organizations to have a lingua franca for SOA to ensure the success of their deployments. As with all of the concepts and models developed through the SOA work group, we anticipate the ontology to be a living document that will be updated as the industry evolves and SOA concepts are further refined.”

Foundational model

In fact, the SOA Ontology Technical Standard has already been used as the foundational business model for the SOA Repository Artifact Model and Protocol (S-RAMP), a proposed standard for repositories and their use in SOA environments to publish, search for, and retrieve a wide variety of technical documents.

SOA discussion between IT professionals and business people, and among IT professionals themselves, often bog down because of a lack of clarity in the terms and concepts used. The ontology is designed to focus the discussions by providing a common framework where everyone is clear on the terms of the discussion.

The release of the SOA Ontology will significantly benefit the industry considering the increased use of SOA within organizations, especially due to the rise of cloud adoption.

The confusion started early, according to Claus Jensen, IBM’s Senior Technical Staff Member & Chief Architect for SOA-BPM-EA Technical Strategy. "In most cases, the business side is confused, because nobody gave them a definition," he said. "Over time, people brought in slightly different definitions and conflicting messages. Taking out the uncertainty is never a bad thing."

The SOA Ontology is designed for use by:
  • Business people, to give them a deeper understanding of SOA concepts and how they are used in the enterprise and its environment
  • Architects, as metadata for architectural artifacts
  • Architecture methodologists, as a component of SOA meta-models
  • System and software designers, for guidance in terminology and structure
The SOA Ontology is also intended for use in conjunction with other industry standards and can also be used by computing systems to create modeling tools, automate standard terms and relationships, clarify working assumptions, and enable interoperability.

The SOA Ontology Technical Standard is available for free and may be downloaded from the Open Group website.

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