Islands of Misfit Tools

A week ago I had the pleasure of talking with David Sprott of CBDI Forum about IONA in general and about our new products, Artix and Mobile Orchestrator. I promised to call him up next time I’m in Dublin, and I think I will, since it looks like we have a lot in common.
Part of my job includes talking with reporters and analysts. Usually I try to be familiar with the previous work of each person I talk with, but last week was a hectic travel week (aren’t they all I guess ;-), and this was one time I had not managed to get the background preparation work done.
Anyway, after the call (and during this week’s hecticic travel schedule 😉 I read the January and March issues of CBDI Journal, and found the articles to be a very good mixture of reporting and analysis.
For reasons that readers of my blog entry on related topics will understand, I was particularly pleased to find David’s article on “Adapting RUP to Support Service Orientation” in the January issue.
The article was based on some interviews with IBM/Rational folks who “…were quite open that the RUP was in need of considerable redevelopment to meet the requirements of the service oriented world.”
(The Rational Unified Process or RUP is the methodology behind the Rational toolset’s development model, which is basically implemented using UML and MDA.)
Some of the interesting bits follow (the online article requires a subscription, otherwise I’d include a link):
“The main granularity unit for RUP and OOA/D is the class. This is too fine grain. It should be the service and the component.”
“RUP tends to assume the focus is a single application…”
“We note a recent paper by Philippe Kruchten of IBM/Rational on RUP and Legacy, where it is argued that RUP supports Legacy strongly. However, the main thrust of the argument is that it is the RUP process framework which can assist, which we would agree with. However, there is no architecture or technique guidance in this area, nor in integration generally, which is the area of concern for most enterprises and the starting point for service orientation.”
In other words, the models, techniques, architectures, and developement metaphors and concepts behind the successful OO tools are not the same as the ones needed for successful SO tools.
It may be possible for IBM/Rational to change from OO to SO, but I’m not convinced. David’s conclusion is more upbeat: “The RUP process framework will evolve fairly easily to SO.”
But in the next sentence he outlines what to me seems like a very big challenge: “Many of the workflows will need tweaking, and the main Analysis, Design and Implementation ones need to be replaced with Specification, Provisioning, and Assembly. This in turn will give rise for the need for different project templates.”
And furthermore “The more major issue for RUP users relates to the fundamental architecture, where there are some foundational concepts that need radical revision…”
To me this seems to imply that the people who brought us RUP are not likely to be the ones to bring us the next generation development model around SOA, since it is going to be too hard to keep the current generation of tools going while simultaneously building the next.
I think new tools are needed that are a better fit for SOA, along with new development approaches, models, and architectures. The old tools have the wrong focus — they are oriented toward the developer of applications that perform discrete units of work or functional aspects of larger systems. We need tools oriented toward builiding services that are of value to the consumer of a service, instead.

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