James Governor's Monkchips

Daryl Plummer Admits Mistake on Web Services and SOA

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Daryl Plummer is a really smart guy. Really smart.
He is a leading light at Gartner. He was also friendly and considerate enough to spend some time with me when I first set up RedMonk, talking about the ins and outs of the business.
I takes courage to admit that you were wrong about something, which is what he does in this Optimize editorial.

Initially, many people thought any service delivered over the Web was, logically enough, a Web service. At the time, however, that idea was considered an anathema to those of us who saw Web services as specific to the use of things like SOAP and Web Services Definition Language (WSDL).

Web-technologies groups are now forcing the acknowledgment that Web services will indeed use mechanisms other than SOAP, WSDL, or even Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI). Instead, standards such as Plain Old XML (POX) over HTTP and Representational State Transfer (REST) are asserting themselves as legitimate and very credible ways of delivering on the value proposition of Web services. As Web services assume more expansive definitions, we can represent them using a wide variety of formats and communications protocols. [italics mine]

You forgot ebXML… 😉

RedMonk has argued for a while that we need a broader view of what a service is, but of course we’re a somewhat easier ship to turn than Gartner.

Daryl has just done enterprise development shops and ISVs a big favour by reintroducing the notion of more flexibility into SOA thinking. Lets keep the architecture astronauts on the back foot and just think about data, people and processes, and how to link them using web modes.

Next time an architect starts pushing for a WS-I everywhere solution you can push back with pragmatism. If you’re an enterprise and a vendor tries to tell the only way to build services is through WS-I, the classic “you must use UDDI” – then feel free to show them the door.  

Standards are useful, but not when they prevent us from getting things done. Standards that act as barriers to participation lose their utility.

Its really good to see that Daryl is part of the reality-based community… what do you do when the facts change? you change your analysis… That’s just the way this business should work.






  1. Daryl is a great guy. I was supposed to move to Atlanta and be in the same office and would have learned a lot. I never moved and worked remotely through my tenure at Gartner.

    Having said that, reading all the jargon you have is the reason why SOA scares the crap out of so many CIOs and business execs. That plus projections that SOA related prof services will cost companies $ 500 billion in the next 5 years.

    IBm is planning to packages bits and pieces of 13 Websphere and Tivoli products as part of SOA?

    Let us know when SOA is ready for general deployment. In English. SOA not SOS.

  2. Daryl Plummer on SOA Web Services Polarization

    Gartner’s Daryl Plummer came out with a piece in Optimize about SOA’s users movement into two main camps: “One group advocates using Web services to build complex internal systems known as enterprise service-oriented architectures (SOAs). The other see…

  3. I agree with this statement of Daryl’s : “Beware of using an enterprise approach to deliver new Web functionality, for example, because it will lead to much less flexibility.”

    But I disagree with this one: “And, don’t even think about trying to use new Web techniques to run that airline reservation system.”

    Or maybe I’m not reading between the lines well. An airline reservation system running over the web could certainly make use of ‘new web techniques’ in the client’s ui, while at the same time having it’s core implementation in the glass house use an enterprise approach. The proper solution might well be a mix of the two.

    But, furthermore, there’s no reason why, if by “enterprise technques” he’s talking about service-to-service calls, that theses couldn’t also be done in REST instead of WSDL. That’s an implementation call. What’s clear is that WSDL will never be a suitable answer for the web ui, and at least it’s good to see folks at least realizing that.

  4. Final, some sanity. It blew away that an analyst would be the first to admit this though. I figured for sure it would come bottom up from some Web services architect at a vendor.

  5. Could Mr. Plummer’s transparency become infectious on other Gartner analysts…

  6. So good to hear Darryl say this, especially as I regard him as the reason “Web Services” are called web services. I remember in late 2000 sitting listening to him tell Ann Manes that she was wrong about “Service Oriented Architectures” and that anyone who didn’t buy in to web services was by definition “marking themselves out of the quadrant”.

  7. I get Vinnie’s point about using English (althought it is too late in America for a biz exec or CIO not to be “datarate” (eg literate in the use of data and its frameworks).

    The reason they don’t adopt, however, is the same reason they are slow on xbrl. Apparently the asuumption is that corruption (financial not data) is required for profitability and no exec wants to hand over data source access without the opportunity to review for evidence of prior bad acts (think Enron, people). This, of course, is difficult whe one is iddatarate and so requires either the buying of one data analyst and/or the whacking thereof (sorry, just saw a sopranos commercial 😉 This eventually discourages new hires down in the data mines…

  8. Funny, I’m reading this blog entry the last week of March, but I now am recalling a conversation I had with a customer just around the March 10 timeframe. I got an earful from this guy on how “braindead” the WSDL model is. Wonder if he reads your blog.

    Then just last week I met an architect at a large NY bank who said he could care less about SOAP, all he wanted was XML over HTTP – this, BTW, is the “architecture” for a huge derivatives trading application, so serious coin is at stake.

    So after all the engineering time we spent on making SOAP/WSDL/UDDI seamless and painless in our product, our customers are asking for something we’ve had now for years: POX over HTTP Views.

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