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Related Topics: Enterprise Mashups, Infrastructure On Demand, SaaS Journal, SOA & WOA Magazine

Enterprise Mashups: Article

SOA, On-Demand, Becoming a Reality

If you've kept up with SaaS and SOA you know that Salesforce.com does an on-demand SOA solution

If you've kept up with SaaS and SOA you know that Salesforce.com does an on-demand SOA solution. Apex is its on-demand development and deployment platform, including a complete development environment, programming language, database, and now the ability to create, expose, and consume Web Services.

Its on-demand platform has been evolving for some time, and now it's moving into the SOA space with an offering that's both disruptive and innovative. I'm not sure too many out there saw SOA on-demand coming, but if anybody can pull it off, Salesforce.com can.

From its press release:
"Salesforce SOA will provide the ability to mashup salesforce.com's multi-tenant on-demand service with enterprise workflow and business processes to enable new kinds of enterprise applications on-demand. As a new capability of the Apex programming language, Salesforce SOA will enable SOA-based business processes, such as enterprise applications, to be created, maintained, and leveraged on-demand. SOA business processes will become virtual and sharable, and benefit from the scalability and agility of the on-demand model."

The multi-tenant Salesforce platform provides a feature set for building business applications such as models and objects to manage data, a workflow engine for managing collaboration between users, a user interface model to handle forms and other interactions, the Salesforce API for programmatic access, mashups, and integration with other applications and data, and the Apex programming language.

This is the first of many steps that Salesforce.com will take to drive its on-demand platform further into the market. It just makes logical sense when you consider that it's a huge service provider, and the companies are leveraging Salesforce.com for their business processes delivered through a subscription-based service. Now, you can take those processes and services and bind them to processes and services inside your enterprise, between your customers and partners, and do so using a SOA infrastructure that you also leverage using a subscription service. It's also an application development platform, letting you create and integrate your own on-demand business applications.

Those who leverage "Salesforce SOA" now will include current Salesforce.com subscribers that need to integrate their internal processes and services with Salesforce.com and build new business processes and new application functionality as well. They will find this approach more cost-effective.

As the Salesforce.com SOA stack gets more mature and better known, Salesforce.com may find that Salesforce SOA users, many of whom are not current Salesforce.com subscribers, will be leveraging Salesforce SOA as an inexpensive way to get into the world of SOA. I think that if they're successful using the SOA platform, most will stay.

Finally, larger organizations may find that Salesforce SOA is the mother of all SOAs when it comes to binding enterprises together to form value chains, or even integrating distributed companies into a single collection of services using Salesforce SOA as a mechanism for central interoperability, as well as service and process exchange. Moreover, the world of mashups is exploding and this platform is perfect for supporting a mashup creation platform on-demand since it's all out there on the Web.

It will be interesting to see how the larger SOA stack players react to this announcement. Now, SOA architects, developers, and process designers have a less-expensive way to build, deploy, orchestrate, and manage services using a holistic single source stack. The best-of-breed players will actually benefit from this technology. You still need bit players to bring it into the enterprise, abstracting and managing data movement, interfacing with core systems, and even building SOAs that interact with an on-demand SOA such as this.

If you've been monitoring my career, as well as my postings, you already know that I'm bullish on SaaS, and SOA, and I see the two merging as complementary concepts. Indeed, we're now seeing SaaS companies move into the platform space, selling beyond enterprise applications into databases, application development, integration, and even operating systems, all on-demand.

As already said, an on-demand platform supports multi-tenancy. In contrast to single-tenant counterparts, multi-tenant platforms share a single common infrastructure and code base that is centrally maintained. Individual customer deployments are unique, separate, and secure in this shared multi-tenant platform, and run a single code base that's shared by all users and upgraded simultaneously.

So, why should you care? Well, this does change the game of both enterprise architecture and SOA. It doesn't change the core concepts, but the fact that, as an option, you can use the key technology on-demand through a subscription, and so at a fraction of the buy-in price we're paying now for software and hardware we host on our own. Again, this doesn't change the core notion of SOA; only the ways to deploy it. This could make SOA much more affordable and easier to implement, and also let resources be shared on-demand. Those are good things.

More Stories By David Linthicum

Dave Linthicum is Sr. VP at Cloud Technology Partners, and an internationally known cloud computing and SOA expert. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and blogger. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including EAI, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief of SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal.

For the last 10 years, he has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, including working with several cloud computing startups. His industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software and cloud computing companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 500 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including University of Virginia and Arizona State University. He keynotes at many leading technology conferences, and has several well-read columns and blogs. Linthicum has authored 10 books, including the ground-breaking "Enterprise Application Integration" and "B2B Application Integration." You can reach him at david@bluemountainlabs.com. Or follow him on Twitter. Or view his profile on LinkedIn.

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