Collaboration Under SOA: The Human Aspects

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8.2 Web 2.0 and SOA

In the context of the changes we expect and see ongoing to make an enterprise SOA based, it is necessary to look at what Web 2.0 brings to the table. Sandy Carter (2007), in her book The New Language of Business, describes how the meeting of SOA and the new Internet facilities changes the way companies do their business today. She describes it as an irrevocable and impelled movement that determines a company's survival.

8.2.1 Definition of Web 2.0

When searching the Internet for "Web 2.0," you easily get many millions of hits. This indicates certain hype attached to it. Let's summarize the idea behind the term.

Although the term Web 2.0 suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end users use webs. So, it refers to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services. Those services can continuously be updated and allow various ways of social networking among the users filling the new roles as we described earlier.

The term was brought up at an O'Reilly event in 2005 following a brainstorming session that Tim O'Reilly documented on the World Wide Web. The core idea is to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users on the Internet. This applies as well to the relationship between those who create assets and those who consume them, those who provide a service and the technology behind it, and those who use it for their business or just for leisure activities.

Hence, this means a strong involvement of every user, a turn away from IT being a secret science reserved for the 2 percent in population with an IQ over 130, or for people with mathematical thinking who sit isolated in their offices and produce applications that hit the users with fixed screens, and predefined processes. Often the users merely understand the mechanism behind their screens and wonder about weird behavior of the system not suiting the immediate needs in a given business situation. With Web 2.0, IT becomes everybody's thing, and most important, it becomes changeable to one's personal needs. The border between the IT providers on one side and the IT consumers on the other blurs.

The closing of the chasm between IT and lines of business is intended for best success with SOA. Besides that, the young people leaving school and starting their jobs are more used to IT than any generation before. This underpins the move of SOA and Web 2.0 to become the normal way of doing business, communicating, living, and running one's daily errands.

In his Web article, Tim O'Reilly provides detail about how Web 1.0 (the Web we currently use) is going to change toward Web 2.0. Several items show a move from a predefined and company-set way of presenting and doing things toward a community-based approach. So, personal websites will be replaced by blogging (that is, a place where several people post their comments). The wiki technology (that is, a place that allows a community to edit common Web pages) increasingly will be used. He refers to Wikipedia as a trusted replacement for printed encyclopedias.

Wiki technology-a term describing a service on the Web to quickly (wiki-wiki = quick) build, change, and update webpages hosted by a wiki service provider.

At the end, Tim O'Reilly (2005) summarizes the envisioned core competencies for a Web 2.0 company that we are going to explore in this context. According to Tim O'Reilly, the Web 2.0 core competencies of an enterprise are as follows:

  • Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability

  • Control over unique, hard to re-create data sources that get richer as more people use them

  • Trusting users as co-developers

  • Harnessing collective intelligence

  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service

  • Software above the level of a single device

  • Lightweight user interfaces, development models, and business models

With this in mind, we concentrate the remainder of this chapter on those items that immediately support SOA, and that are important to the enterprise architect to consider when helping the company on the journey toward a service-oriented enterprise. Before that, a few more observations are helpful to understand the whole extent of the impact from SOA and Web 2.0 in our societies and economies.

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