Portals and SOA: Portals in a Service-Oriented Architecture

I’ve been invited to give the following talk at BEA Participate:

Why is a Service-Oriented Architecture important to an IT infrastructure and what are the elements and products needed to build out an SOA? These questions answered, plus a discussion on how portals are the practical starting point to leveraging SOA.

Quite honestly, the title and abstract make it sound like an invitation to engage in a lively game of buzzword bingo, but I assure you this talk will be light on the trite — you won’t hear me use the acronym SOA more than once or twice — and heavy on the real deal, rubber-meets-the-road stuff about how mere mortals/human beings are actually accomplishing the sort of things that SOA evangelists are preaching these days.

So, here’s what you can expect: I’ll talk a bit about some of the challenges of building integrated user experiences in today’s enormously complex and heterogeneous IT environment and show how a software developer — without superpowers — can piece together an integrated true-to-the-principals-of-SOA application using ALUI, ALDSP (Data Services Platform) and ALESB (Enterprise Service Bus). This will culminate in an actual, real-life demo.

I will of course make sure to sacrifice a chicken to the Almighty Goddess of Demos or do whatever else I have to do to make sure my demo doesn’t crash. Scratch that, I’ll just run it on Linux and everything will be fine.

So, all joking aside, if you have any ideas for items you’d like me to include in (or exclude from) my talk, please post your comments here. I’ll be sure to give anyone who makes a good suggestion a “shout out” during my presentation. They’re actually giving me a whole hour this time, so they’ll be room for plenty of tomfoolery, geekspeak, silly anecdotes and still time to answer your insightful questions at the end. As one of my good friends and business partners said following my talk at last year’s BEA World,

you never know what to expect during one of [Chris Bucchere’s] talks.

I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but of course I took it as a compliment.

In closing, while we’re on the subject of BEA Participate, I just wanted to say thanks to Christine “Obi” Wan for giving me the opportunity to present and, more importantly, for putting together such a great-looking agenda, which you can review if you like, because now it’s posted on the BEA Participate site.

In the meantime, do your best to convince the powers that be at your company/organization that they will finally discover the secret to “leveraging SOA” if they send you to this conference. Also, please don’t mention that every past Odyssey has had several open bars.

Comments

Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Working with Aqualogic we all know how it’s easy to plug in our portlet into Aqualogic. We don’t need Aqualogic portal running on our own computer to do this, we don’t need special IDE, we don’t need upload wars into portal. It took time to explain this to my experience J2EE collegaes that got some experience with IBM Websphere. Here what they do there:
    http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/techjournal/0410_barcia/0410_barcia.html
    A lot of steps pretty much the some but have a look at step 11. Here is the core difference. So at least one benifit of SOA is that we don’t need to do step 11.

    Posted by: Bryazgin on April 13, 2007 at 7:03 AM

  • >Quite honestly, the title and abstract make it sound like an >invitation to engage in a lively game of buzzword bingo True, I have the some issue. In my article (for russian development network) I want to stress SOA architecture of Aqualogic, but I don’t want to use SOA word. Audience is pretty techical so they all pretty much feed up of this word. Hmm, may be I will end up with this:
    Avoid nightmare of step number eleven !
    At least, “what the hell this guy talking about?” will be more predict reaction. 🙂

    Posted by: Bryazgin on April 13, 2007 at 7:25 AM

  • Hi Dmitri! Thanks for your insightful comments.As I’m building the demo for my talk, I’ve noticed that these SOA tools encourage you to loosely-couple everything. And that’s a good thing. As you pointed out, ALUI fits into this nicely with its loosely-coupled portlet architecture. The evil “Step 11” (too bad it wasn’t “Step 13”) is: “Select the Browse button and navigate to the WAR file for your portlet, then select Next (Figure 17).” Step 11 has some pretty awful implications for the enterprise. First off, it assumes that everything is Java, which, as much as I love Java, is just wrong wrong wrong in the heterogeneous enterprise. Secondly, it tightly couples your portlets to your portal, which is contrary to SOA.As an aside, I was listening to some Web 2.0 podcasts in the car the other day, and this guy who worked on Google Maps talked about “seams” in an architecture. To paraphrase, he basically said that everyone misuses the word “seamless.” Seams, just like in the textile industry, are critical to enterprise architecture. Just as seams hold swaths of fabric together and separate one bit of fabric from another, they also help define boundaries in the enterprise architecture that are equally critical to SOA. Without seams, everything must be homogeneous — applications must be bought from the same vendor, run on the same OS, be written in the same language, etc. — and this is completely contrary to the reality of enterprise software and systems and completely anti-SOA.

    To illustrate how not being “seamless” is actually a good thing, I’ve designed a demo system that involves bits of LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP), bits of Java, bits of .NET and bits of Adobe Flash all held together with seams built with ALDSP, ALESB and ALUI. I’m still working on the technical side of things, but the use case is simple: a sales rep wants to quote his customer. Behind the scenes, his company is running a LAMP CRM server, a Flash/SQLServer product database, a .NET portal, and a Java-based Collaboration Server. Using a hybrid of ALDSP, ALESB and Java and .NET web services, the user experience is easy and seamless, but behind the scenes, it’s the powerful seams supported by ALDSP and ALESB that make this not only possible, but fairly straightforward.

    If you’re interested in hearing more, register for BEA Participate and [shameless plug]come to my talk[/shameless plug]! By the way, I’m co-presenting with Joseph Stanko, the BEA Engineering Manager responsible for the development of Ensemble (formerly known as Project Runner) — he will run several slides to help you understand the theory behind SOA and I will show the reality of how the AquaLogic stack truly enables SOA in the enterprise.

    Posted by: bucchere on April 14, 2007 at 6:07 AM

  • Alas, I’ve finally finished my demo. I had some configuration issues with ALSB, but ultimately they boiled down to the interface between the keyboard and the chair, i.e. human error. I had the proxy service calling the business service, which, in turn, called the proxy service again. You should have seen the utter wasteland this little tidbit of mutual recursion made of my machine. Actually, I was impressed — Java would spit out a JVM_Bind error once it exceeded some internal maximum, but ALSB (running on WLS 9.2) would actually keep running. Nice.Anyway, now that I’m past all that, I have an ALDSP layer over two disparate data sources (one MySQL DB containing CRM info and one HSQL DB containing product info) exposing data through netui/beehive to a single ALI portlet. (The nifty little portlet uses script.aculo.us to show an interesting new take on the age-old concept of master-detail.) I also included an Adobe Flex-driven portlet. The two portlets use some client-side IPC (inter-portlet communication) to exchange info and then they call a proxy service on ALSB that takes info from both sources and creates a Word document (in the form of a sales quote). The business service also uploads this document to ALI Collaboration so that people can work on it collaboratively before sending it to the customer. (I may replace this last little bit with a .NET web service, just to show that Java and .NET are both acceptable alternatives for writing the “glue” or “seams” in a true service-oriented architecture.)Lastly, the event coordinators have locked in a time slot for us: Monday, May 7th at 4:30 PM in the Technical/Developer Track.

    If you’re “participating” it would great to see you at our talk or at the bdg booth. This year we have a cool — yet practical — giveway that will definitely brighten your day. Looking forward to the conference!

    Posted by: bucchere on April 22, 2007 at 7:52 PM

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