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Two specifications that may have some impact on rationalising the practical realities of service development and building within SOA have now reached the point where they are to go forward to OASIS, the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, as the first step towards becoming accepted standards.

The two are SCA, the Service Component Architecture and SDO, Service Data Objects. Both are pitching at making the development of SOA services that much easier across a wide range of platforms and infrastructures.

The specifications have been undergoing an incubation process with OSOA, the Open Service Oriented Architecture collaboration, since the middle of last year.

Both have the potential to make a developer’s life easier, particularly when it comes to building composite applications across a heterogeneous infrastructure, which in almost every case is the reality of an enterprise environment. SCA is aimed at becoming the model approach to building applications and components so that they can be brought together as loosely-coupled composite services regardless of the language or technology used to create them. Reg Developer is currently running a two-part tutorial on creating services using SCA.

SDO sets out to short-circuit at least some of the problems found in handling data for databases and services, providing a consistent method that unifies data handling regardless of what application created it or its format. It will also have mechanisms that will allow it to handle data that is detached from its source. This should help maintain that data’s usability and currency when used in a service that is a composite of applications and components from different sources, an environment where maintaining transaction data while a disjointed or fractured transaction is in process can be a major problem.

There is still no sign of either HP or Microsoft adding their names to the OSOA membership list. This currently consists of BEA Systems, Cape Clear, IBM Corporation, Interface21, IONA, Oracle, Primeton Technologies, Progress Software, Red Hat, Rogue Wave Software, SAP AG, Siemens AG, Software AG, Sun Microsystems, Sybase, TIBCO Software, and Xcalia.

However, according to BEA’s senior technical evangelist for the EMEA region, Martin Percival, this may not be as much of a rejection of OSOA or the two specifications as it might at first appear. “Both of them are working closely in these areas with partners that are members,” he said. “BEA is working closely with HP, and Microsoft is now in partnership with both Sun Microsystems and SAP.” The obvious inference is that both are likely to be prepared to accept and run with the specifications when they finally become standards, without feeling the need to make specific contributions. ®

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