Why Service Component Architecture Is Big News
Sunday, April 02, 2006
In an industry where new technologies are usually over-hyped, there’s one that’s not getting nearly enough attention. Service Component Architecture (SCA)
, currently described in a group of preliminary specs created by IBM, BEA, Oracle, SAP, IONA, and Sybase, generated a few news articles and blog posts when it was announced late last year. Since then, it’s largely slipped from view.
Yet I’d argue that the magnitude of what’s happening with SCA is analogous to Microsoft’s announcement of the .NET Framework back in 2000. If the vendors behind this effort can make good on their promises—and there are good reasons to think they can—a major part of the development world will be shifting to a new platform. This is big news.
SCA attempts to do several things. First, it replaces large parts of J2EE. SCA still relies on some J2EE technologies, such as JavaServer Pages, but its creators seem intent on moving away from EJB and other parts of this complex technology environment. The SCA specs make soothing noises about working with these older technologies, but SCA largely subsumes their functionality.
SCA also aims to eliminate Sun’s control over the primary non-Microsoft application platform. Given that both Sun’s stock price and its J2EE app server market share are in single digits, it makes no sense for it to retain control of this fundamentally important technology. By creating SCA outside of the Sun-controlled Java Community Process, the vendors behind this effort have made their intentions clear.
It’s also fair to view SCA as an attempt to provide a platform that’s technically competitive with Microsoft’s Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). I wrote a comparison
of SCA and WCF shortly after SCA’s announcement, and the two have many similarities. WCF is significantly simpler than the .NET technologies it replaces, and it’s simpler still than the analogous J2EE technologies. Without a streamlined replacement for these J2EE technologies, which SCA tries to be, Microsoft’s competitors would be at a serious disadvantage.
SCA certainly faces hurdles to success, some of which I described in my SCA/WCF comparison. Still, for organizations moving to SOA—that is, for pretty much everybody—SCA is a big deal. Unless you’re an all-Microsoft shop, in which case your future will rely on WCF, your primary vendors have told you that they’re about to change the platform on which you build service-oriented applications. Since this style of development is becoming the default, the platform you use for it matters enormously. If you care about application development, pay attention to SCA. It really is big news.