Great discussion on non-functional aspects of SOA

Ron Jacobs had a great discussion with Mark Baciak on ARCast over the course of two podcasts (here and here). In the second one, they discuss Mark’s Alchemy framework. It is essentially an interceptor-based architecture coupled with a centralized store and analytic engine. In my “Converging in the middle” post, I talked about the need for mediation capabilities that address the non-functional aspects of service interactions. Now, most people may see the list and think that an ESB or an XML/Web Service Gateway is the way to go about it. In these podcasts, Mark goes over their system which provides these capabilities, yet through a “smart node” approach. That is, the execution container of both the consumer and the provider is augmented with interceptors that can now act as an intermediary, just as a gateway in the network can.

The smart network versus smart node discussion falls into the category of religious debates. Truth be told, both ways (and the third way, which is a hybrid between the two) can be successful. There is no right or wrong way in the general sense. What you need to do is understand which effort is most likely to produce the operational model you desire. A smart node approach tends to (but doesn’t have to) favor developers. A smart network model tends to (but doesn’t have to) favor operations. As a case in point, I’ve seen a smart network approach that would not be feasible without developer activity for every change, and I’ve seen a smart node approach that was very policy-driven and operations-friendly. So, as an alternate view on the whole problem space, I encourage you to listen to the podcasts.

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